How much is too much homework?

How much is too much homework?

More isn’t necessarily better when it comes to math and science homework, according to a new study published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Educational Psychology.

Researchers at the University of Oviedo in Spain looked at the performance of 7,725 public, state-subsidized and private school students from northern Spain.

In the study, students were given a questionnaire asking how often they did homework and how much time they spent on various subjects. Results in math and science from standardized tests were also analyzed to help compare student’s knowledge improvement with the amount of homework spent each night.

The results were surprising.

The study tried to determine the optimal amount of time kids should be doing homework before they saw students’ math and science results decline. Teachers who assigned, on average, 70 minutes of homework per day were able to see better test results than students who were assigned more than 70 minutes per day.

“Our data indicates that it is not necessary to assign huge quantities of homework, but it is important that assignments are systematic and regular, with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-regulated learning, said Javier Suarez-Alvarez, PhD, co-lead author in a press release.

Study leaders found that students spent on average between one and two hours a day doing homework in all subjects.

Valeria Nanclares-Nogués, a psychologist with the Pediatric Developmental Center at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago believes that the purpose of homework has developed a negative effect on parents because of the work load.

“The original idea of homework was for the student to briefly review the day’s school work at home and have another opportunity for practice to enhance retention. But it seems like homework loads have significantly increased, adding quite a bit of stress for both student and parents,” says Nanclares-Nogués.

She provides helpful tips for conquering homework:

  • Help your child get organized.
  • Prioritize the work by setting small goals each night.
  • Give your child frequent breaks.
  • Reinforce positive attitudes towards homework.
  • Try to keep it fun!

“The conclusion is that when it comes to homework, how is more important than how much,” said Suarez-Alvarez.


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  1. Really good tips on reducing stressful homework nights! I also find that discussing homework with my kids helps – gives them the opportunity to have the spotlight on them while they explain/teach me what they learned, and helps me see if they’re fully understanding/where the gaps are.

    My son’s high school math program sets weekly targets where the kids have to take a “mastery” to see if they completely understood that week’s target. If they don’t get 100%, they don’t move on to the next target. Very effective, and keeps the daily homework focused.

  2. Great tips Mayura! Thanks for sharing.

  3. My son is in 7th grade, and he averages between 3-4 hours a day in homework. My daughter is a freshman in high school, and she averages between 6-7 hours of homework every night. Her math teacher gives a minimum of 2 hours every day (including weekends). This is beyond stressful for everyone in the family, to say nothing of the stress for my daughter and son. I’ve talked to the teachers, and I’ve talked to my children. Both teachers and students seemed to be convinced that this is necessary for success in college. At this rate, the kids will be burned out before they get there. Sadly, the kids all wear this like some sort of badge of honor – “Hey, I was up until 2 doing my math homework!”. This is so bad at so many levels, and I’m powerless to stop it, short of moving to a different school district.

  4. How do educational researchers weigh in on the issue? According to Brian Gill, a senior social scientist at the Rand Corporation, there is no evidence that kids are doing more homework than they did before.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.