Written by Gideon Batai
Homework before 8th grade, and especially in elementary school, is a controversial topic. For many parents, it’s challenging to make elementary school students with low attention spans do homework after spending several hours in school. Yet other parents believe homework helps challenge their children or prepare them for more homework in high school. However, research has shown that because of negative school-related neural associations, unrealistic expectations, and stress, homework issued before 8th grade does more harm than good.
Homework is dreaded by most students, creating a negative association with schooling in general. People learn best when they have the drive to learn. If a negative educational experience has trained students to dread learning at school, they aren’t learning to their fullest potential.
Though the National Education Association suggests 10 minutes of homework per grade, many teachers don’t see significant positive impacts from homework before 8th grade. (For example, a 5th-grade student has 50 minutes, and a 12th-grade student has 120 minutes.) Many students are too tired to get much out of the homework, and it’s not unheard of for parents to do their kid’s homework.
After a long day at school, it’s unrealistic to expect students under 8th grade to do even more work after school. It simply causes unnecessary stress and emotional toll. Without homework, students could engage in other important activities like family mealtimes, play, or even sleep, which are essential to a student’s overall well-being and education.
Some parents may want their kids to be given homework at school. However, many researchers, teachers, and child development experts agree that homework isn’t helpful enough to offset the harm it causes. When everyone, including kids, is experiencing heightened stress, educators and parents need to take a new second look at the costs and benefits of homework.