Homework isn’t helpful in first grade or in college

By Katelyn Patterson | Reporter

Do your homework.

Sounds simple, right? Except it isn’t.

Homework, in practice, is a chance for students to work through lessons and make sure that they comprehend what is being taught in class. However, in most situations, all it tends to do is add stress and result in resentment for learning.

Younger students — or those just starting their education — have not developed the study skills necessary for homework to be truly beneficial. They learn best in the classroom with someone to guide them. Jacqueline Worthley Fiorentino, a second grade teacher, said her students started learning about subjects that interested them in their free time when she stopped assigning homework.

“They excitedly reported their findings to their peers — who then became inspired enough to explore their own areas of interest,” Fiorentino said for Edutopia. “The minor academic benefits to assigning mandatory nightly homework simply do not outweigh the substantial drawbacks, which include potentially turning young children against school at the beginning of their academic journey.”

So, what about older students?

Education experts say the “10-minute rule” is the standard. It recommends a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. High school seniors, for example, should complete about two hours of homework each night.

Middle school and high school-aged students have been in school for longer and have developed the skills necessary for homework to be effective. But now, they are commonly on the brink of being overwhelmed with extracurricular activities (ones that are often pushed to add to college applications). In keeping with the “10-minute rule,” which many say is the appropriate amount of homework to assign to students sixth-grade students are given an hour of homework on top of the actual school day and any after-school activities they may have.

Then, if you add in the fact that many teachers take homework assignments for grades, it adds even more pressure onto students. If they do not have time to complete the homework during the day, many will either take a zero and, thus, a bad grade or sacrifice their sleep, which affects them the next day. It becomes an endless and damaging cycle of burnout.

Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, supports the “10-minute rule” as a maximum, but she said she thinks there is not sufficient proof that homework is helpful for students.

“Correlation is not causation,” Vatterott said for TIME. “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?”

Students should not have to sacrifice anything to feel as if they have succeeded in school. They should not resent learning because they were taught to treat school as a job that they just need to finish and turn in. Free time should not be a privilege. Give students the time to be kids while they still can.