Does Homework Actually Increase Kids’ Academic Performance?

posted: 03/14/16
by: Mara Betsch
little tired boy sitting at a desk and holding hands to head

Homework has been a part of students' lives for decades. But with the pressure to do well in school, pass state standardized tests, and get into a "good" college, homework is starting as early as kindergarten. And, unfortunately, it may be doing more harm than good.

As a Time article reported, homework has evolved from simple memorization tasks to hours worth of reading, writing papers, and working on group projects each night. There is some evidence that homework helps with academic achievement in late middle school and high school, but it may have the opposite effect on elementary school student, at least according to a review of more than 180 studies on homework.

A 2015 study found that children had three times as much homework as is recommended by education leaders, which can hurt children in the long run.

With younger children, homework is just as much as a parent's job as it is a student's. And in order to get children to finish assignments, parents must often nag, cajole and, sometimes, threaten children who would rather, and probably should be, playing.

Younger children may also develop a negative attitude towards homework, and more broadly, towards school, if faced with mountains of homework each night. Research also shows that playing and learning things outside the classroom, free of rules, may actually help children learn to regular emotions, make plans, and solve problems.

So what's the answer? If homework is meant to reinforce skills and teach responsibility and study habits, some experts recommend that homework ramp up in middle school, and that younger children can be taught responsibility through remembering to do chores around the house.

There are many different opinions as to when homework should be assigned, how much should be given, and the types of homework that improve academic performance, but there's one widely acknowledged way that you can, as parents, help your kids excel in school: Make sure they get enough sleep! Study after study shows that skimping on shut-eye leads to a decline in academic performance.

What do you think about your child's homework load?