Homework in Elementary School
In spite of the popularity of homework in the school setting, there are arguments that contravene the perception that homework is indeed important to academic development. Proponents of homework issuance from the elementary school level posit that homework contributes to academic as well as social development. On the other hand, the opponents of this point of view hold that homework results in more harm than good to the students subjected to it. Impacts such as increase in stress level, sleep deprivation and overall change of attitude towards the school environment are connected to high amount of homework at any level of education. Although the proponents of homework in school may opine that parents who voice their concern against homework are anti- academic achievement oriented, the reverse attitude should be considered too. There is a group of parents that has the all-round development of the children in mind. As such, this study attempts to bring to the fore the various features that make homework unsuitable for children in elementary school and subsequently highlight that homework has more negative impacts than positive outcomes.
The study methodology was a secondary approach based on past academic articles. From the articles, it was possible to review evidence that supports the argument that homework is not beneficial to students, especially at elementary school level. The materials for the study were obtained through the internet searches using keywords such as homework, elementary studies and impacts of homework on the students. Only the materials available for public use were collected for the study and information was extracted using a repetitive abstractive method. The information presented in the research is, therefore, viable for the study and the obtained results were valid and accurate for public use and general application.
Some of literature sources have provided various positions against homework, especially in elementary school. For instance, Graham (2014) asserts that homework administration assumes that all students have equal access to resources. As such, some students are wrongly penalized for failing to complete their homework tasks without regard to their lack of resources. Graham goes further to explain that it would be unethical to subject students with unequal access to resources to the same measures of evaluation and punishment them for failing to do their homework.
Furthermore, studies have established that contrary to the popular belief, the relationship between homework and eventual academic achievement can be refuted. When the level and frequency of homework issuance is significantly high, it is bound to result in stress, low levels of social interactions and sleep deprivation among other outcomes. Knight (2016), who also questions the benefit of homework to students, represents this argument. In Knight’s work, teachers only give homework to students because of mistrust in the innate willingness of children to conduct their own personal studies (Knight, 2016). As such, it is not aimed at improving their performance or achievement but at coercing them to engage in independent studies.
In Kohn’s paper (2007), homework is considered to possess many positive outcomes. For instance, Kohn reports that most pro- homework scholars have argued that homework helps in reinforcing the learning process. At the same time, they posit that homework enhances study skills and promotes responsibility of students. To contravene these positions, Kohn explains that homework may result in negative outcomes in regards to these factors due to the negative attitudes it fosters in the students. The argument that homework helps to build character as reported in Knight (2016) is considered unfounded as other activities may also help in character building. For instance, Knight reports that children engage in social interactions with those around them. Such interactions help to build them socially and influence their character.
When children engage in homework, the time left for other activities is reduced significantly. Knight (2016) reports that excessive homework, as is common in elementary school environment, could influence the social experience of students hence limiting their potential for gaining from the others. Some authors have thoroughly discussed other negative outcomes of homework. For instance, Boulder (n.d) examines various outcomes of homework. According to Boulder, homework has minimal positive impacts on students because it is administered excessively. Boulder reports that the recommended amount of homework is ten minutes times the grade level of the students. For instance, students in the first grade are to have a ten –minute- homework while the second graders can have a maximum of twenty –minute- homework. Most teachers however give more than this. For instance, Wallace (2015) reports that students are often give as much as three times the amount of homework they should be having. This is exemplified through the argument that elementary school children are given as much as 29 minutes of homework. The impacts on them are frustrating. This also results in stress among the parents who help them work on their homework.
Boulder concludes that the excess homework increases the stress levels significantly in students. The increase in stress causes lack of sleep, fatigue, depression and unhealthy eating .. On sleep deprivation, Boulder found out through a research that 80% of teens have less sleep due to homework, 28% sleep in class due to sleep deprivation at night, 22% sleep while doing their homework. Moreover, stressed students are more likely to exhibit slipping of academic grades. Although Graham (2014) also discusses these impacts of homework, he adds that homework results in low social interactions. According to Graham, the purpose of homework should be beneficial for the students. However, excessive issuance does not result in any benefits to the students. Graham stresses that the link between academic achievement and engagement in homework is thus overrated.
Knight also mentions the impacts of homework such as stress and imbalance between the school life and personal life. In particular, he highlights the fact that homework deprives students of the opportunity to interact with others while away from school. Ulcers and loss of interest in school and associated activities are also mentioned as some of the impacts of homework among elementary school students (Knight, 2016).
From the reviewed sources, it is clear that homework may have potentially more negative outcomes than positive ones among the students. At the same time, there are those arguments that support the use of homework to enhance learning among students. In the propositions, homework is linked to the effective character development, enhance school performance and there are advancement of responsibility and study skills. While these benefits may be achievable through homework, it is required that such homework should correspond to the level of study of the student. This, however, has to start with a positive attitude of the students themselves. First, the teachers have to understand that although students may need to engage in school activities, they also have other social and physical needs that must be addressed. They have to be aware that engaging in activities such as playing and exercising, the students do not waste time but rather spend it to take care of their physical and social needs. Furthermore, such activities should not be presumed to be an indication of lack of willingness to study. Students, like adults have different capabilities and need to develop their talents as well as gain education. By understanding this, it would be possible for teachers to find ways of sustainably engaging students in homework while helping them to foster other skills.
As recommended by Boulder, Knight and Wallace, excessive homework can have more detrimental impacts than the normal homework amounts. The authors mention the need to adhere to recommended homework amount per grade of students. It is only in this way that students can be made to do homework constructively. The negative impacts of excessive homework have been clearly described by the different authors who emphasize such as sleep deprivation, stress, fatigue and ulcers among others. Migraines and weight loss are also mentioned by Wallace. As such, it appears that the negative outcomes of homework far outweigh the positive impacts of it. This comes with additional social and economic costs as parents engage in running battles with children who are willing to do their homework.
Knight (2016) describes the progress of kindergarten students from eagerness to embark on their homework to making every effort to avoid the homework. This is only indicative of the change in perception developed by the child regarding homework. They probably find homework intriguing initially. However, this perception changes as they realize that homework is tiring and time consuming.
This paper is aimed at encouraging parents and teachers to take into consideration the needs of the children while engaging them in homework. To do this effectively, the first recommendation is that homework should not be given to students in kindergarten. This is because the students may be in school yet are cognitively immature to understand what they are doing. At this age, the students are also more likely to do things without understanding why. The kindergarten students should not be given homework until they are older and can understand why they have to do homework. Otherwise, they may do homework as a routine and eventually develop negative attitudes towards homework and towards school as a whole.
Secondly, teachers who give students homework should do so within the time limits recommended for different grades. Giving students excessive homework is indicative of insufficient training on the teacher’s part and may also be an indication of carelessness. This is because such actions show that either the teachers are unaware of time limits or they have opted to disregard the recommended time limits. Through adherence to the recommended limits, it would be possible to keep students’ concentration throughout their homework and also to keep their attitudes towards school positive. Moreover, it helps to limit the homework to the subjects taught within the day.
Additionally, there should be collaboration between teachers ofa specific grade on issuance of homework. Besides excessive homework issuance, another factor that can also contribute to such negative outcomes is that different subject teachers may give homework to their students on the same day. This increases the total duration of time spent on homework beyond the recommended limits. Where there is collaboration between teachers, it may be possible to limit such cases by agreeing that only one teacher should give homework per day.
It is also recommended that undereducated parents should be made aware of the impacts of homework on the lives of their children and of the recommended homework duration. Wallace has shown that the most affected parents are the undereducated ones who support homework without knowing its negative implications. Teachers, therefore, give homework based on the argument that parents recommend it, yet some of those parents are unaware of the impacts of homework.
Homework may be effective among adult children. For instance, some of the positive outcomes that have been connected to homework include growth of academic achievement and development of individual responsibility. However, when issued at significantly high rates, the purpose of homework is lost as children perform it while under pressure and subsequently post low productivity. Outcomes such as high stress levels, sleep deprivation, ulcers and loss of interest in school have been cited to be related to excessive homework in school. It is therefore recommended that teachers should not give kindergarten students homework, they should only give recommended amounts of homework to older students; collaborate among class teachers to agree on homework frequencies and amounts and inform undereducated parents about the negative outcomes of homework.
Boulder, C.O. (n.d). Should students get less homework? Emerson Media.
Graham, E. (2014, May 13th). Should schools be done with homework? National Education Association. Retrieved from www.neatoday.org/2014/05/13/should-schools-be-done-with-homework/
Knight, L. (2016, February 24th). The question of homework: Should our kids have it at all? The Washington Post. Retrieved from www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/02/24/the-question-of-homework-should-our-kids-have-it-at-all/
Kohn, A. (2007). The homework myth: Why our kids get too much of a bad thing. Da Capo Press.
Wallace, K. (2015, August 12th). Kids have three times too much homework, study finds: What’s the cost? Cable News Network. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/12/health/homework-elementary-school-study/