Why I Dislike Homework and How the Research Backs Me Up

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Do your kids spend hours a night doing homework?

Mine do.

And I hate it– maybe even more than they do.

Seriously, I’d much rather that my kids get much needed down-time to: play, nap, read, run, swing, dance, twirl, build, create, draw, invent, or design.

Yet I sit inside with them, trying to pretend that I’m enthusiastic and supportive, helping them to stay focused, answering questions that come up. Ugh. (And don’t get me started trying to describe the melt-downs when you have a child with Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD. Homework is that much more of a nightmare.)

Remember when I asked you on Facebook about homework? Most of you didn’t support homework either.

And to be clear, I didn’t care for homework as a fifth grade teacher either. My students rarely had homework unless they didn’t finish something in class. (Lesson to use your time wisely.) No homework meant that they could read, play, do sports, have family time . . .

The majority of research supports no homework. (So does common sense, one could argue, . . . at least, I’d argue anyway.)

what does the research say about homework and why I hate it

Homework Research

1. There is no evidence showing that early elementary homework is beneficial (Cooper, 1989 a; Cooper, Robinson & Patall, 2006) ASCD with the exception of  some studies showing correlation on math tests. (NCTM, 2008)

2. Too much homework affects a child’s sleep. Lack of sleep negatively impacts brain function. (Wolfson, 1998)

3. Homework is detrimental to student achievement and makes children depressed. (Australian Institute of Family Studies following 10,000 students)

4. Too much homework is not helpful to student achievement. (Cooper, Civey, and Patall, 2006.)

5. Mixed research showing homework developing good study habits – some research shows yes, some no. (Cooper, 1989a, Cooper, Robinson, & Patall, 2006) ASCD (Kohn, 2006 The Homework Myth.)

6. Time spent on homework for secondary students sometimes correlates to achievement but not with elementary students and not consistently for secondary. (Plude, Enns, and Broudeur 1994) NCTM and (Maltese, and Fan, 2012)

7. Many countries (Japan, Denmark and Czech Republic) with high test scores have instructors who assign no or little homework. (Mullis, Martin, Gonzalez, Kelly and Smith, 1998.)

You’ll find more research on two articles from which I learned the most and synthesize the homework research: Jane Bluestein’s blog and on ASCD.

Recommendations for Homework (if given)

While I’ll always believe that homework should be little to none, IF homework is assigned here are my recommendations.

Homework should:

– be able to be completed independently, without the help of an adult

– have been well-covered in class and is an opportunity to deepen knowledge

– promote mastery of a skill the student hasn’t yet mastered with an engaging task

– be clear and purposeful to the learner

– give students autonomy to learn a topic interesting to them

– be coordinated with other teachers so there isn’t an overwhelming amount

be differentiated (considering different abilities of the learners, different modalities of learning, etc.)

I think less homework just makes sense. 

But there’s the rub. What’s up with all the homework our kids are assigned?

What do you think?

Have you advocated for less homework in your child’s life? Or would you do so now that you know the research and know you’re not alone? Please elaborate in the comments. 

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40 Responses

  1. […] by Melissa Taylor, Imagination Soup Do your students spend hours a night doing homework? Mine do. And I hate it- maybe even more than they do. Most of the time they just do it and don’t complain. But I’m complaining! […]

  2. I completely agree with your position about homework. I believe that this is a waste of time that children could spend with profit. After all, a person will become successful only if he do what he likes. Why should a child spend his childhood on stupid homework? Is it not better if he tries himself in different fields, and chooses what he likes. I would really like that when my child goes to school, homework was canceled, and my child could spend his free time on what he likes. Thank you for sharing this article!

    1. Nowadays in Sweden they practice “homework-less” studying. The first results are pretty impressive! No psychological damages for children. Interviews showed that their attitude to school became more positive. We all have to practice it. No more senseless homework for kids.

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    Hi! I’m Melissa Taylor, mom, writer, & former elementary teacher & literacy trainer. I love sharing good books & fun learning resources.

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