Homework Not Good for Kids: Parents, Educators

WASHINGTON ~ A small but increasingly vocal group of US parents and educators are pushing for homework to be abolished for younger children on grounds that it serves no purpose.

According to two new books on the subject, American children are being robbed of time to enjoy hobbies, sports and even their families because of too much homework.

The books argue that children are doing more homework than ever with no concrete evidence that their effort contributes to the learning experience.

“There is no research that shows that there is any correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary school and even as kids get older,” Sara Bennett, co-author of The Case Against Homework.

A New York-based attorney, Bennett decided to investigate the subject and write a book about it when she saw the grueling schedule her two children were subjected to after school.

“I would look at what was coming home and it would seem like the biggest waste of my kids’ time,” she said. “When my son was in middle school, I felt like he was working the way I had worked in law school and I just thought that was crazy.

“I didn’t understand why you would ever do that to a child.”

Bennett said she got so fed up with the system that she decided to place her two children in an alternative school this year where they have no homework.

“There is nothing that shows that kids will be smarter or better educated or more analytical or creative thinkers if they do homework,” she said. “So kids are spending a lot of time doing work that nobody has really been able to say is beneficial.”

Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, argues that not only is too much homework eroding children’s love of learning but it may have adverse psychological effects.

She cites a number of studies showing that homework is not a key ingredient of academic success and that, in some cases, it may have an adverse effect.

Critics also say that in today’s two-career families, parents have less time to help their children and are often forced to hire private tutors to ensure their kids don’t fall behind.

But not everyone agrees that homework is bad for kids.

Homework defenders insist that home study is healthy for children, teaching them how to manage their time and become self-confident and responsible.

Still, there is evidence that younger children may not benefit much from homework.

A Duke University study found a correlation between homework and student achievement, but the link was stronger among middle and high school students.

The study found that as children age, they can handle more homework and suggested that time spent on studying be adapted to a child’s age.

First-graders, for example, should have 10 minutes of homework, second-graders 20 minutes and so on. The formula holds through high school.

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