When the lesson is about to end and the teacher announces homework requirements, they might think that a three or four session stuck behind more books and writing after school has finished is going to further their education. But piling on the homework will not help children advance in school, in fact, it could well have the reverse effect entirely.
Do you get too much homework?
A study by a group of Australian researchers found the average scores of relating to students’ academic performances against the amount of homework dished out at the end of the school day, showed clearly that when more time was spent on homework students were getting lower scores. The research clearly suggested that placing too much homework can cause lower grades and even lead pupils to begin suffering from depression.
Can homework cause depression? Yes, if a pupil is inundated with too much homework their life balance is thrown out of all proportion. All children and adults too should adopt an 8-8-8 circadian rhythm to life where eight hours work, eight hours play and eight hours rest (sleep) plays an important factor in how we all roll.
A typical school day might begin at 9 am and complete by 3.15pm, so piling on three hours of nightly homework means schoolchildren must endure seven hours at school (including traveling time) and three hours of homework, thus robbing the child of two hours downtime.
Often to make matters worse, teachers will give pupils homework that is both time-consuming and will undoubtedly keep them busy while being totally non-productive. Some examples include History teachers asking pupils to hand write (word for word) pages 113 to 139 of a textbook on The French Revolution. Such remedial homework will do nothing to improve pupil’s scores in exams or up their grades.
There is certainly no advocacy for the abolishing of homework here; simply that the amount and quality of a child’s extracurricular work after school be re-examined. Good quality homework practices have been adopted in Finland where schoolchildren were given just 30 minutes per night to spend on homework and none at weekends. The kids were stress-free and scored highly in their grades.
Many parents are even beginning to advocate time limits on a number of homework minutes dished out each night. Stress, depression and lower grades are the last things any parent wants for their child.
For those who wish to try and help themselves, there are lots of books and other material that can help combat stress and depression.
Show this page to your teachers and see what they say 🙂
Not long ago, it was enough to send children to school clean, well-fed and clothed. Teachers resented parents who asked too many questions.
School was for children – as was homework – but not today.
Nowadays both children and their parents may be getting stressed over homework, and depending on the child's age this can be from one hour a week to two-and-a half-hours per day.
In an attempt to improve standards of education, parents are being increasingly drawn in as unpaid 'teachers' to help.
Many kids enjoy the challenge. But for those struggling with the extra load, it can lead to strained parent-child relationships and stress all-round.
Homework has been banned in French primary schools since 1956, because it's thought to be tiring and to reinforce inequalities between children.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers in the UK would like an outright ban.
We talk to sociologist Frank Furedi, former Professor of Sociology from the University of Kent and Dr Beverly Donaldson from Imperial College Healthcare Paediatrics.
How much homework is ideal?
Government guidelines for primary school children's homework recommend one hour per week for Years 1 and 2; 1.5 hours a week for Years 3 and 4 and 30 minutes a day for Years 5 and 6.
'Young children nowadays are burdened by too much homework that stresses them. They shouldn't be spending all evening struggling with sums or spelling,' says Dr Beverly Donaldson.
'Getting out and playing with friends after school develops their communication skills and ensures they are fresh for school next morning.
'Children are naturally inquisitive, creative and hungry for knowledge – so reading is excellent because it allows them to explore the world.'
Should parents help?
'Parents can help by using homework to develop their child's organisational skills and sense of responsibility,' says Professor Furedi.
'Parents should refrain from completing homework and liaise with the school if they think that their child has been set too heavy a load to get the balance right.'
You can also praise and encourage your child to boost their confidence and gauge their needs by listening and discussing.
Set aside a regular time and a designated homework area and turn off distractions, like the television.
Encourage your child to use the library or internet to develop their research skills and offer small rewards for well-done homework.
Children are more pressured to perform now than 20 years ago when fewer people went to university and there was less competition for places.
But finding a university spot is much harder now, with applications up by nearly 10 per cent, thought to be triggered by the recession and subsequent rise in youth unemployment.
'Spending too much time struggling with homework can harm your child's health, worrying about whether they can do it can make them nervous, anxious and lacking in confidence, and deprives them of a proper rest after school,' says Dr Donaldson.
Remember, not everyone is going to be academically gifted and some children who are being pressured, but not achieving good exam results, could be encouraged to think about interesting vocational qualifications and more practical careers.
Encourage your child to read
Getting kids reading is a great way for them to learn without the pressures of formalised homework.
'Encourage your children to read to develop their imaginations, transcend their experience and learn the subtleties of language,' advises Professor Furedi.
'Make sure that there are lots of books around. Homework is just a small part of a child's development and learning by memory is no help whatsoever.'
Creating exciting projects at home is another way to inspire kids' imaginations.
Limit time online
A recent Swedish survey of more than 4,100 men and women, aged 20 to 24, found that those spending too much time online, on mobiles, or playing video games were at greater risk of stress – important as the average teenager spends 31 hours a week 'surfing' the web.
This has created a significant link 'between computers and mental disorders,' says Sara Thomée, lead researcher on the year-long University of Gothenburg study.
Try to sway your child to do the following.
- Avoid focusing on a screen for too long because this can cause headaches, depression, eye strain, dryness and damage.
- Watch out for Facebook 'addiction'. The average user spends 75 minutes a day on the social networking site.
- Beware of going online late at night because this may cause sleep loss and affect your performance at school or work the next day.
- Stay active. People who overuse the internet tend to neglect exercise, letting their weight creep up. Get unplugged to interact with friends in person.
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