Much of the debate surrounding homework's positive and negative effects on students concerns what amount of homework is appropriate. Studies certainly reveal a correlation between homework and academic achievement, but some studies show that too much homework can harm a student's health. The national PTA recommends 10 minutes of homework per grade, but the amount of homework actually doled out to students varies from school to school and teacher to teacher.
The Review of Educational Research published a comprehensive survey of all the studies on homework and achievement performed between 1987 and 2003. It found a strong connection between the two, particularly in high school.
In elementary grades, homework helps youngsters establish healthy study habits and keeps parents connected to what their children are doing at school, the survey concluded. Homework in high school leads to higher scholastic success.
More and more students not only seek post-secondary education but have to compete for acceptance with students from other countries whose homework load is perceived to be even higher. This has led to an excessive amount of homework for some students over the last decade. While homework can certainly prepare high school students, in particular, for college -- and make them lifelong learners in general -- the amount of homework demanded for higher academic achievement and expected by many parents can cause stress and anxiety for some students.
A study from academic journal Child Development reveals that when students lose sleep from excessive studying, their comprehension of material and ability to excel on tests declines. Analyzing diaries of hundreds of school children who recorded the duration of homework they completed each night and the amount of sleep they got revealed that those who missed out on regular hours of sleep struggled to understand lessons and test instructions and questions the next day.
In addition to homework, many students are involved in extracurricular activities. This limits students' free time even more. So if a grade 11 student gets out of class at 3 p.m., attends soccer practice from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m., arrives at home after showering to eat dinner at 5 p.m. and then completes the recommended amount of homework for his grade (110 minutes) beginning at 6 p.m., the student does not have any free time in the day until after 7 p.m. This assumes that the student fully understands the homework and does not struggle to complete it, as many students do, and that the student does not have part-time employment or family responsibilities that further consume evenings and weekends, leaving even less time for homework.
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