How teachers may be failing students with excessive homework

After a long day of school and work, children and parents alike are unlikely to want to come home to a pile of homework. But America’s homework load is higher than ever. 

According to the American Journal of Family Therapy, the amount of homework for some young elementary school students is almost three times the recommended levels. For kids between kindergarten and second grade, the American Institutes for Research says most educators agree no more than 10 to 20 minutes of homework each day is appropriate.

While homework can help establish a daily routine and sense of responsibility, psychologist Lisa Damour said more work does not necessarily mean more achievement. In fact, up until the seventh grade, there is no correlation between homework and academic achievement. For grades seven to 12, it can help with performance, but only to a certain degree – anything more than 90 minutes for middle school students, and between one and a half to two hours for high schoolers, could diminish the positive effects of homework. 

So why do teachers assign so much work? Damour attributes this to the increased pressures on teachers as a result of “high-stake testing.” 

“Teachers are under pressure, which means students will be under pressure,” Damour told “CBS This Morning” Wednesday. 

But one second-grade teacher in Godley, Texas, is not giving in to the pressure. Brandy Young decided to scrap homework altogether. 

“There will be no formally assigned homework this year. Spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success,” Brandy Young wrote in a letter to parents, posted by a mother on Facebook that’s now gone viral.

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Samantha Gallagher posts a photo of a new homework policy her second grader received from her teacher.  

Samantha Gallagher/Facebook

Young said she made the bold decision after realizing that the extra work “wasn’t right anymore” for her students. 

“If something’s not working as an educator, you need to change it. You’re here to help these kids,” Young said. “Young elementary students don’t need pencil and paperwork after they leave the classroom.”

Instead, Young advised parents to spend the time doing things that are proven to be beneficial to children’s development, including family dinners, playtime and earlier bedtimes. Meanwhile, excessive homework can have detrimental effects, creating tensions at home and conflicts between school and home. 

For families that do have to deal with homework, Damour advised parents to reach out to teachers for help if their children appear overwhelmed by the work load. 

“I think if things are not going well at home, families should reach out to the teacher,” Damour said. “If you and your children every night approach like this terrible battle that is about to unfold, it’s time to call the teacher and it’s time to ask for help.”