The amount of homework children bring home every day can be overwhelming. A 2004 University of Michigan study found that the amount of homework had increased 51 percent since 1981. While many educators use homework to supplement the material learned in class, homework doesn't always improve academic performance, and a 2003 "Review of Educational Research" study found that the current way teachers assign homework is not academically beneficial. Students who struggle with homework or who get a large volume of homework each night can experience negative effects in their family and social relationships.
Homework takes time away from other pursuits. Children who have a large quantity of homework have less time to spend with their families and friends as regular social interaction plays a critical role in brain development. Children who get plenty of opportunities to interact with friends and family can gain valuable social, conflict management and impulse control skills. When homework reduces this time, children's social development may suffer.
It's not surprising that homework can greatly increase family stress. Parents may spend an inordinate amount of time fighting with their children over homework, enforcing homework rules and mastering concepts they need to help their children excel. The study found that stress, frustration and conflicts over homework are particularly pronounced in families with a child who is struggling academically.
Less Active Learning
Active learning is learning that occurs in context and that encourages participation. For example, a child who goes on a scavenger hunt with his friend and, upon seeing a frog, decides to watch the frog and learn about its movement is engaged in active learning. When homework takes children away from their friends and families, the opportunities for active learning are greatly decreased. This can decrease opportunities for parents to be involved in their children's education in a fun, mutually fulfilling way, and also reduces the amount of time children have to engage in active learning with their friends.
Many families have established routines, such as eating dinner at a certain time or reading together before bed. These routines can increase closeness, make it easier to manage stress and ensure that a household runs smoothly. A child who has several hours of homework, for example, might not be able to eat dinner with her parents, and a parent might have to alter her schedule to help her child with homework. An everyday scenario like this, easily highlights how homework can disrupt family routines.