Too much homework leading to stressed out families
For many families, the nightly struggle to get homework done while juggling family commitments and extra-curricular activities leaves kids and parents stressed out, causing many to wonder if all this homework is actually necessary.
A study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy concluded that kids are getting too much homework. The study surveyed 1,173 parents who had children in kindergarten through high school, and found that students as early as first and second grade had two to three times the homework recommended by the National Education Association.
In 2006, the National Education Association endorsed the “10 Minute Rule,” stating that 10 to 20 minutes per night in the first grade, and an additional 10 minutes per grade level thereafter, is an acceptable workload.
“I have seen especially in high school aged children that they are staying up to 11 to 12 at night to do their homework because of extra-curricular activities mixed in,” says Dr. Christina Swanson, pediatrician with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “I think it is leading to sleep deprivation, and I have concerns about what it is doing in the long run.”
The issue is that so many kids are involved in extra-curricular activities that the addition of homework on top of it is what leads to all of the stress, Dr. Swanson says. Two to three nights a week are spent at practices, and it is increasingly more difficult to balance everything.
According to the study, the growing school workload not only affects the student, but it also has larger ramifications on the families, especially those where parents don’t have a college degree. In these households, fights and conflicts about homework were 200-percent higher than homes where parents had at least a college degree.
“We found that homework load, parents’ view of self-efficacy in assisting with homework, and language/cultural factors were all contributors to family stress,” study authors wrote. “Additionally, we found that a major part of this picture was the expectation, among parents, that they assist their children with homework at the instructional level.”
Based on their findings, the researchers offered these recommendations:
- Primary schools should adhere to the “10 Minute Rule” for homework
- Restructure homework so that parents can be agents of support instead of instructors
- Parents should designate a quiet and special place for their child to study
- Insure that the child is in the designated homework spot, distraction free
“Being organized is key and being aware of what assignments they have so that they don’t miss anything,” says Dr. Swanson. “School comes first so if it is becoming an issue, then it may be time to cut things out of the kid’s schedule.”
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