Do you like the idea of homework? To me, sometimes I feel that homework is essential, but when I see a child glued to the desk for long with a very strained look on the face, I am not too fond of the idea of homework. Childhood is meant for the enjoyment and learning and not for the stress. However, an actual fact is that this is the age to learn the value of dedication and hard work. So what to do? Is there any middle way? How much homework is right and how much homework is too much?
These questions usually haunt my mind. Some schools also think about these questions very seriously. Out of their understanding about the value of homework for students, some schools cancel the homework for students, while some other keep on piling it up. To be very true, there is no sure shot middle way to reach.
Actually, the philosophy behind homework is, it enables a student to think beyond what is being taught in the classes and to teach students organizational skills and time management. However, this philosophy works only if students are ready to learn and engage themselves in homework to produce the best output. This philosophy fails to work when it starts to affect the students’ health, social life, and mental level negatively.
Effects of too much homework:
Let us discuss the various ways in which the homework affect the students adversely. There are various ways in which excessive homework affects a student.
1. Homework affects student’s health:
The effect of homework is not just limited to the physical health of a child, but it affects the mental health as well. Most of the students when asked that if they feel any stress while doing homework admit that they do feel it. If we talk about it in physical terms, students say that when they get engaged with the excessive homework they lose weight, lose sleep, feel exhaustive and have a headache. Excessive homework has also been found to give a push to the poor eating habits.
2. Homework affects grades:
Initially, when a student starts to do homework, he starts it with dedication and motivation, but as the amount of homework starts to increase, there starts a degrading effect on the grades. It is because the student loses the motivation to do it. Now-a-day, the hours which a student spend in a school have increased considerably. Now there are some added after-school obligations also. Most of the schools now include sports, club time, extra-classes, etc. to give a boost to the overall development of a child. So after that how much time is left? If a student spends 8 to 9 hours or school, how much time can he devote to the homework? I think, not more than 2 hours. More than 10 hours of a study in a whole day affects the kids’ health adversely. So when there is excessive homework, the student loses the motivation to do it, as he has spent ample of time studying for the whole day.
Even if he does the homework, it is not active learning. A study was done in an exhaustive state, and not in an active manner is detrimental for sure. This loss of motivation affects the grades for sure.
3. Homework affects Social life and learning skills:
Why do we learn new things or do a study? If we think deeply, one of the reasons is to fare well socially in the long term. We learn, we study and vie for higher grades to get a respectable position in life be earning and behaving well throughout our life. The social learning depends most on the social interactions a student makes when he/she was in the developing stage. Most of our social behavior molds by childhood learning process. When there is excessive homework every time, students do not get the ample time to socialize. This hampers the social learning process of the child. The social time that a student gets actually refreshes their minds. This is as crucial as is the learning. A fresh mind grasps the things more quickly than an exhausted mind. A lack of social time also makes them feel isolated. This isolation makes them feel as if they do not have a support system. This problem gets further aggravated for older students. This is because older students indulge themselves in part-time work. This makes the balancing of the part-time work and homework difficult. How can you expect a student to fare well when he doesn’t get the time to relax and socialize? Childhood is the time to experience most peaceful mind. Let it be peaceful.
Reasons why homework should be limited:
Now we have discussed in detail how excessive homework affects students in the three major ways.
Now let me quickly summarize the reasons why homework should be limited:
It sometimes creates a rift in the relationship between a student and a parent:
You must have frequently observed that there are constant debates between parents and child over how much time a student is dedicating to studies after the school. Those parents who see the homework from only good angle feel that any amount of homework is good and it is the responsibility of their child to do it well. A student, on the other hand, feels that when they have spent so much time in the school for the studies and learning the topic, why is it essential anyhow to review the entire learning when they feel they have understood all. The child’s psyche demands play and socialization time. Here is where the conflict arises between the parent and the child.
Homework is just the memorization and not education:
This fact seems logical that homework is memorization only. Mostly the homework is given to reinforce the topic and knowledge which is already being imparted in the school. So we cannot say that homework is imparting any new knowledge. Also, when the knowledge is not new, what is the need for it to be enforced? The second logic given is that, if a student is unable to do the homework well, it means that he hasn’t learned anything, and if a student easily completes the homework, it means that it was not needed to be done. Isn’t it logical? From this perspective, the whole exercise of homework seems pointless.
Homework favors only a few good performers:
It creates the feeling of inequality between the students. The students who are able to do the homework well all the time are considered superior. Also, those who are bright students, but unable to do the homework for some of the other reason, are considered inferior. This creates a rift between the students inside the class. Some view homework as an anti-egalitarian system. Those students who have wealthy and healthy working environments conducive to learning will perform well always. They will have all the resources to do the homework ranging from helping parents to a private tutor to excellent connectivity etc. In this way, the homework system favors only a few and not all equally.
It hinders the overall development of the child:
When some schools have limited the aim of education to vocational preparation, the overall development of the child is getting a backhand. The major aim of the education as perceived by the thinkers is that it is a tool to shape the artistic, creative and emotional aspect of a child. When we are giving excessive homework how all those aspects of the child will be addressed? Students and parents both remain in a dilemma that whether the child should devote more time to the hobbies, interests, etc. or he should be meeting the educational requirements as directed by the school. The inability to hit a proper balance affects the overall development of the child very adversely.
Not enjoyable hence not helpful in learning:
Let me ask you a question if any activity or task is not attracting your senses anyhow, would you be able to enjoy it? I think the common answer would be no. Can you perform exceptionally well in the class of guitar if you always keep on attending that class without any interest or a sense of enjoyment? Same is the case with the homework. If a student is anyhow not feeling motivated to do the homework and is always approaching it with a sad heart, it is not going to help him with the studies and performance anyhow.
Some students learn and resort to bad learning habits:
When there is excessive homework, the student out of his obligation to do it anyhow, sometimes resort to the wrong ways of completing it. This is a very big side-effect of homework. Sometimes students let it get done by a friend, and at some other times look for the internet to get the direct answer to the problem given. Here, the intention of the teacher, to get the child to do some type of mind-activity gets a blow to the head. Students even forge the diagrams by some means. There are many other ways also, in which, they try to shed the burden of homework by wrong means. In such conditions can you say that homework is helpful anyhow?
Limited academic benefits:
Check a survey conducted by TIMSS in 2007. The survey suggests that when fourth graders were given homework below the average level, were found to be academically more successful in science and math. This proves that homework does not add much to the academic achievements of a child. And when it is so what is the need for it to be included?
How much homework should students have?
So now you know well that the homework affects the students adversely many times if the student is unable to hit a healthy balance between the homework and social life at large. Should students have less homework? The next question which arises in mind is that how much homework should students have? Well, there is no sure shot answer to that. However, there are specific guidelines that can be followed while deciding the homework for students.
The educators had to face a lot of problems while deciding the homework for students. Homework, when done wrong, is not beneficial for the student at all. When students repeatedly make the same mistake, this is very detrimental. It reinforces the wrong knowledge in the tender mind. Proper feedback on the homework done is of much more important than the amount of homework being done.
The homework must be given according to the child’s grade level. This homework policy is really wonderful. This method, as researched and suggested by the experts in the field looks the most reliable to me. Include this in the list of your homework policies. Kids must be given only 10 minutes of homework per day and not more than that. A student which is in grade 5th or above must not have more than an hour of homework. Believe me, instead of two hours of hard homework, if a child is given two hours to play in the evening or to relax, meet relatives or friends will improve the life quality of the child. Through education, we aim to have a better life quality and nothing else.
All the discussion above clarifies that the homework policies need to be curated in a very well though-off way. This is not just a daily practice which needs to be followed mindlessly. For a teacher, there is a word of caution, do not ever let the children do in the homework what a teacher is unable to get through in the class. This leads to a level of frustration for both the child and the teacher. Once a student gets demotivated for these reasons, the student will never be able to restore it. Do not exceed the homework more than an hour or a half, if you really want the child to get bloomed in all the senses. See the children as a flower that needs to be bloomed, and not as a fruit which needs to be ripe. Get a clear perception of what education really is, and this will help to decide the homework wisely.