The practice of assigning students homework has been around for a long time. However, some people determine this task as a rapidly declining learning tool, with some pushing for it to be banned completely.
So the question is, should schools ban giving homework to students?
The following are reasons why homework should be banned, according to educators and other professionals:
Former Public Teacher | Founder, Hope Like A Mother
Homework has now just become busy work
Homework, when used correctly, can be a tool to deepen the knowledge that students receive from school. The issue is that teachers nowadays use homework as “busy work.”
Busy work is anything used to keep the hands busy. It doesn’t stimulate the brain. It also doesn’t extend the students learning or connect it to real-world experience.
When I was in high school, teachers used to give us crossword puzzles as homework. Most of my homework was never graded. When used like this, it serves no purpose.
Homework is just used to shush the parents up. As if to say, “look how much work your kid is doing in my class. He must be learning a lot.”
Children need a break from school
School work is very intense now with the advancements we’ve made in education. Students spend eight hours in the classroom. Some students may have more than one after-school activity.
So it’s important that they get a chance to relax when home so that their brains can recharge. Homework can add more stress to their already stressed life.
Homework adds more stress on the teacher
Students are not the only people stressed from too much homework.
Any good teacher will tell you that when they assign homework, they:
- have the responsibility of grading them,
- writing meaningful feedback, and
- giving the students a chance for multiple do-overs
That one homework now becomes two or more additional work for the teacher and student alike.
Teachers already have a lot on their plate. Before you teach a lesson, you have to do extensive research.
You gather your material, prepare a worksheet, you differentiate the lesson for kids with special needs (sometimes, this means making two different worksheets for different sets of kids).
After you teach, you have to grade over 90 worksheets (most NYC teachers have three to four classes with 30 students in each), Give meaningful feedback, then give the students chances to redo the work (if they failed the first time).
To top all that off, you have daily meetings to attend after school. The work is never-ending.
Homework just adds to that work unnecessarily.
Patricia Bubash, M.Ed
Licensed Professional Counselor | Founder, Successful Second Marriages
Students need time to disengage from school
The lament is heard by every parent at some time in the life of their child. How many parents listening to this cry of exasperation and frustration have said, “I feel like I am the student, and this is my homework.”
These households are not where evenings are spent in relaxing recreational family time; rather, they grudgingly spend at the kitchen table doing homework.
As an educator of more than 35 years, I have seen the negative and the positive of homework.
I watched students with gifted skills, bored with the regular curriculum, who refused to do homework. Their reason is, “I know how to do this, so why do I need to do homework?” And they are correct.
What is the benefit in demanding that a high achieving student do “repetitive” work just because everyone else has to do it?
Others in the class may need additional help, but homework is not the answer for them either. Additional tutoring and special education services are existent in most schools.
Unless it is a college preparatory school, where it is anticipated that all students must over-perform, I believe for elementary age, kindergarten through sixth grade, homework should not be assigned. Only in situations where a student asks for additional work for extra credit.
Tackling on more school work at the end of the day often creates a lack of enthusiasm
A young student needs “down” time when the ending bell rings- time to disengage from school.
Tackling on more school work at the end of the day often creates resentment and a lack of enthusiasm for school for both parent and child.
In a society of mostly two working parents, the evening hours when everyone is home are few. After school, hours should be for the family to spend bonding together.
A capable teacher can cover the day’s curriculum without sending home more school work.
Schools now provide additional tutoring and special education services for a student who is struggling. So many more support systems are in place for the student who is falling behind.
This is also the student who does not need homework. Piling on more homework is not going to lead to understanding; rather, other helps need to be researched.
Our current school system is so entrenched in a child’s “book” learning. They have missed the importance of teaching social skills, learning how to work together, and the skill of compromise and acceptance.
The focus is on book skills.
I cringed as I watched a first grader trudging down the hallway at the end of the day with a backpack full of books and homework.
Their after-school time should have been spent engaging with friends, playing a sport, finding an outlet, or doing anything fun.
Third graders were even more laden down. Third grade is a year of transition, and teachers are determined to have them ready for fourth grade. Rarely did they get a night without homework.
Unlike our traditional system that centers on learning through books, homework, drill, and tests.
The Montessori system looks at the whole child, encouraging self-motivation, increasing curiosity, and a desire to learn.
Teachers foster growth in all areas of a child’s development. There is no “time” expectation when the child learns a certain skill, and learning comes at the child’s pace and personal understanding.
Fifth and sixth graders need a reasonable amount of homework as a precursor for high school. Expectations, course work, will be more demanding, and homework a given in high school.
At the higher-level grades, seven to twelve, preparation for the college-bound is necessary. Students at this age understand the competition facing them as they enter college or the work world.
As an educator, and school counselor for decades observing the impact of homework on students, I only see the value in higher grades.
If a school supports a curriculum that necessitates the giving of homework, it should be a minimal amount, relative to the age of the student: ten minutes for first grade, twenty minutes for the second, on up the scale in increments of ten minutes.
Homework should be banned if it is simply tedious busy work
Homework should be banned if it is simply tedious busy work, and is overly frustrating for the student, and especially if it is not collected or acknowledged by the teacher in some way by checking or grading it.
If an individual school can build time into their school day for students to do homework by way of free periods, tutorial times, or even class time to complete some or all of it, then students will not be overloaded with work in the evenings on top of their jobs, volunteer work or other extracurricular activities.
Also, excessive stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep will be greatly reduced if homework becomes banned or very limited.
Perhaps in-class group projects or verbal assessments can help teachers determine if any homework on top of material presented in class is even necessary.
Having no homework reduces teachers’ grading load
Having no homework will also cut down on teachers having to grade it.
I am not suggesting a full-fledged ban, but perhaps more of an overhaul of a school’s homework philosophy and clearer mission as to why or how much time should be spent or is being assigned per student depending on their grade and learning style.
I also encourage schools to partner with Challenge Success, an amazing nonprofit research and intervention program that partners with schools to redefine ‘success’ and more closely examines the homework practices in schools, among many other contributing factors.
Robbin Alston, Ph.D
School Psychologist | Founder, B.E.T.A One
As an educator, and psychologist, homework should be banned for the following two reasons:
Homework becomes punitive
Assuming that homework is designed to reinforce what the child learned in school, how do we know the child learned the material in school. If they have not learned, then homework becomes punitive.
When too much pressure is put on a child surrounding homework, some children opt for the chastisement rather than the homework stress.
Eventually, they feel a sense of hopelessness.
Children come from different environments
Teachers grade children based on homework submission, failing to realize all children do not come from the same living situation.
Many children are latch-key children. Some live in shelters or are left without parental supervision in completing their homework. Children come from different environments, and homework should not be a fixed routine in their lives.
After a while, school in itself represents a negative reinforcement or something they want to avoid over homework.
Homework becomes a disturbance in the household
Some parents even complain that they don’t understand the homework and therefore can not help their children with it.
Thus, homework becomes a disturbance in the household, with some children being punished over not doing it.
Marketing and Education Specialist, Boluo School
It widens the achievement gap between “haves” and “have-nots”
Homework often does little but widen the achievement gap between the “haves” and the “have nots.”
Parents who are heavily involved in their students’ academic lives are usually there to ensure that the homework gets completed and are often able to help their children with it.
Parents who are not as present (for whatever reason) are often unable to assist with the homework either because of time constraints or a lack of understanding.
The students from these families often shoulder tremendous responsibilities in their households like babysitting, cooking, cleaning, and even maintaining afterschool jobs to help with bills.
Homework in these families is generally not a priority.
Students are more stressed than ever before. Even pre-pandemic, youth mental health concerns and teen suicide were on the rise. Since COVID began, it has only gotten worse.
It is imperative that students get a chance to rest and recharge without the weight of academic achievement hanging over them every moment.
Students who are involved in afterschool activities and sports often stay at school for 12-14 hours some days. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for homework to be done.
Senior HR Business Partner, Zety
Imagine you just spent most of your day learning, and finally, after six or eight hours, you get home. Most of your day is gone. You now have the afternoon or evening free to go over what you’ve learned.
- Where’s the time to relax?
- To do something you enjoy?
- How is adding more work after work, normal?
Homework has been proven by many studies (OECD) to be unnecessary. Why?
Homework takes away time that could be spent on health and fun
In order to learn, you need time to rest and build up your mental and physical health. Homework takes up the space that should be dedicated to your well-being and other enjoyable activities.
One or two hours may not seem like a lot, but when you’re already tired after going through a day that requires high amounts of concentration, two hours can easily turn into four.
Longer hours don’t make you more productive.
While workplaces start opening up to that fact, it’s equally important for decision-makers in learning environments to face it. You need time to enjoy yourself and relax guilt-free from the systemic pressure to be productive 24/7.
Homework is often a stressor that causes anxiety
When faced with all kinds of deadlines, especially from multiple fields at once, you’re bound to experience stress and anxiety.
This, compiled with little free time for self-care, aggravates an already vulnerable mental state.
This type of additional work has been shown to contribute to physical symptoms of stress like:
- sleep deprivation,
- headaches, and
- stomach aches
Such effects can lead people to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs, and overuse of prescribed medications.
Finland shows no homework is not only possible but beneficial
Finland has no homework and has one of the world’s highest education systems. How? By acknowledging the importance of teachers through proper funding and programs.
But this also requires a central, system-changing belief that balance and your well-being are more important than additional work or long hours.
It’s not hard to understand the “no homework” arguments once you consider what’s happening in the workforce. When people have the opportunity, they opt for jobs that offer a work-life balance.
There’s still a long way to go, but companies are starting to face more scrutiny for violating that need. It’s about time we have this discussion in the education sector too.
What’s different about young generations nowadays, that continue to face the negative consequences of homework, is that as they get older, they’re more likely to speak out against it.
An interesting study we conducted at Zety showed that the main reason Gen Z-ers would consider leaving their current job would be if there was a poor work-life balance.
This information gives some hope when it comes to challenging and improving a broken system that, in the early stages of life, makes you go through homework and, as you get older — over time.
Founder, Kevin Nguyen Experiences
A child’s work week is similar to an adult’s work week with homework
Think about how many hours children go to school, about 30 hours per week, right?
At such a developmental and crucial part of their lives, children should be more focused on learning life skills and exploring new activities with friends and family. With homework, a child can easily amount to schedules that can mirror a working adult life.
Why do we want to subject our children to that experience so early on?
These children are at an age where they can take risks and try new things. The negative impacts of failure are less impactful as a child when compared to as an adult.
Lightly guided experiential learning provides fresh new areas of interest for children
Instead of providing homework, I believe educators should provide a list of great activities that children should try doing in their free time.
Related: Benefits of Physical Activity for Children: A Daily Dose of Movement Does a Body Good
Learning by doing is the name of the game here. These activities should not be mandatory and give children an opportunity to try different things.
- How about cooking a dish that the family is not familiar with?
- What about doing a small hike on a trail they have never been on?
- Try a new DIY hands-on project and build something?
By allowing children to try out new things at an early stage in their life, albeit with just a little guidance (e.g., providing a large list of ideas), they’ll be more well-rounded and have a much better idea of their interests, which they want to pursue beyond high school.
Senior Editor, Tandem
Though I do not personally have children, I have many friends who have children ranging in age from three to thirteen. I have witnessed my friends handling their children’s homework assignments. From this, I have formed a relatively strong opinion on the subject.
Insufficient time to complete the homework
Teachers assign homework to help students learn more about a given subject. Students are then expected to go home, complete this homework independently, and learn from the experience.
What I have witnessed, however, is not what is happening. Instead, the children are bringing work home. Then the parents are either partially or fully completing the work because they do not want to see their children fail.
- Does this benefit the child?
- Is the child truly learning?
- Does the child understand responsibility and obligations?
Many families have two parents who work full time, which means they might not have the time after their workday to help their children with homework.
When a teacher expects homework to be completed with a parent’s assistance, this might put additional strain on the parent(s) and cause added stress. Additionally, children want (and should) participate in extracurricular activities, including soccer, chess club, drama club, and more.
That means going to school for approximately seven hours per day, partaking in their after-school clubs, and then going home to eat dinner and spend quality time with the family.
There might not be much time left to complete homework on time.
Should homework be banned? Possibly. Though the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle.
Teachers need to understand that there should be limitations on how much homework is assigned. Parents need to understand that they are doing their children a disservice by doing the homework for their kids.
Hopefully, soon, teachers and students can find a happy medium.
Co-Owner, Throw Deep Publishing
It doesn’t build educational connections, it demonstrates compliance
I believe that the use of homework should be banned from educational settings because it doesn’t create educational connections between topics and concepts.
Rather it demonstrates compliance in students who successfully regurgitate information and meet a deadline.
Education and learning take place in the classroom first and foremost, and once the bell rings at the end of the day, I believe that it stops there as well until being picked back up the following day.
The school day is long, and many students have trouble focusing and staying attentive in their regularly structured schedule as it is.
By adding more onto their plates and asking them to complete work on their own time, we’re asking them to do a poor job and simply give us the information that they think we want them to provide us with.
No learning or connection takes place in this process.
Many teachers use homework as a way to reinforce information, but this can be done much more effectively and positively in the classroom.
By using the time allocated to the school day to cover topics related to the classroom, we can help kids separate school from other aspects of their lives that may be stressful.
School can cause stress and anxiety in children and teens, which is brought to a further extent when their home life begins to be infiltrated by the presence of homework.
This stress and anxiety can spread to many other problems, such as sleeping problems that create a vicious cycle for a child that is nearly impossible to break. The effects can be devastating, only beginning by creating a negative image of school in the child’s mind.
With this being said, I do not think that in-class projects or assessments should be banned from education.
These are positive ways for children to show you what they know and how far their knowledge of a topic extends, and what information they’ve retained in the process.
However, this is not a place for homework, which merely focuses on reinforcing information on a child’s already exhausted brain after a long day of thinking and learning information.
This knowledge can be demonstrated through the use of large projects and assessments in the classroom through the child’s ability to use and synthesize the information that they’ve learned.
Founder, Our Kiwi Homeschool
Homework robs children of opportunities to explore new things
Children and teens need their own time and space to develop their own interests and engage with things beyond their structured education.
When we fill up all of their time with tasks, it robs them of opportunities to explore new things.
The six or seven hours a day that children are in school is more than enough time to complete their formal education. Anything beyond that is punishment, in my opinion.
In our homeschool, we can finish all the bookwork and necessary tasks by lunchtime. After that, the rest of the day is for them. They can play outside, read books of their own choosing, plant seedlings in the garden, or anything else they’re into on that day.
We don’t force them to do homework, which, in my opinion, only turns most children off learning.
Career Coach, CV Genius
Homework causes stress
According to a survey conducted by Stanford University, 56% of students say that homework is the most significant source of stress. In comparison, only 1% of students believe that homework is not a stressor.
Furthermore, 80% of students exhibited physical symptoms such as:
- weight loss, and
- sleep deprivation
If students are given no homework, there will be no stress for them.
They wouldn’t have to worry about whether they turned in their assignments or not. As a result, it would be a dream come true for students.
Homework encourages cheating
If someone is given a large amount of work to be completed in a short amount of time, they would likely cheat. The same happens with students.
Instead of teaching them to study, schools are helping them to learn new and effective ways to cheat.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of homework?
Homework is typically assigned by teachers as a way to reinforce classroom learning and to develop good study habits in students. It is also seen as a way for students to practice what they have learned and to prepare for upcoming exams.
What are some alternatives to homework?
If you’re a teacher who is considering banning homework, you may be wondering what alternatives there are. Here are a few:
• In-class work: Instead of assigning homework, consider having students complete assignments in class. This can ensure that all students have access to the same resources and support.
• Project-based learning: Project-based learning can be a great alternative to homework, as it allows students to apply what they have learned in a more creative and engaging way.
• Flipped classroom: In a flipped classroom, students watch lectures or complete readings at home, and then come to class to apply what they have learned. This can be a more effective way to reinforce learning than traditional homework assignments.
What are some tips for implementing a homework ban?
If you’re considering implementing a homework ban in your classroom or school, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
• Communicate with parents and students: It’s important to communicate the reasons behind the homework ban to both parents and students. This can help to ensure that everyone is on board and understands the rationale behind the decision.
• Provide alternative assignments: Students may still need to practice and reinforce what they have learned, even without traditional homework assignments. Providing alternative assignments, such as in-class work or projects, can help to achieve this goal.
• Monitor academic performance: It’s important to monitor students’ academic performance after implementing a homework ban to ensure that they are still mastering the material. If necessary, adjustments may need to be made to ensure that students are still learning and progressing.
How can teachers and parents support students without homework?
Without traditional homework assignments, teachers and parents can still support students in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas:
• Encourage reading: Reading is a great way for students to continue learning and reinforcing what they have learned in class. Encouraging regular reading can help to support students’ academic development.
• Provide resources and support: Without traditional homework assignments, some students may need additional support to stay on track. Providing resources, such as online tutorials or study groups, can help to ensure that students are still receiving the support they need.
• Emphasize self-care: With the extra time that comes with a homework ban, students may have more time for self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or spending time in nature. Encouraging self-care activities can help to support students’ overall well-being.
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