Homework has been a part of the schooling experience for multiple generations. There are some lessons that are perfect for the classroom environment, but there are also some things that children can learn better at home. As a general rule, the maximum amount of time that a student should spend each day on lessons outside of school is 10 minutes per each grade level.
That means a first grader should spend about 10 minutes each night on homework. If you are a senior in high school, then the maximum limit would be two hours. For some students, that might still be too much extra time doing work. There are some calls to limit the amount of time spent on extra limits to 30 minutes per day at all of the older K-12 grades – and some are saying that homework should be banned outright.
Can teachers get all of the lessons taught in an appropriate way during the 1-2 hours per subject that they might get each day? Do parents have an opportunity to review what their children learn at school if none of the work ever gets brought back home?
There are several advantages and disadvantages of why homework should be banned from the current school structure.
List of the Advantages of Why Homework Should Be Banned
1. Homework creates a longer day for students than what parents work.
There are times when parents need to bring work home with them after a long day of productivity, but this time is usually part of a compensation package. Students do not receive the same luxury. After spending 6-8 hours at school, there might be two more hours of homework to complete before getting through all of the assignments that are due. That means some kids are putting in a longer working day than their parents. This disadvantage means there are fewer moments for going outside, spending time with friends, or pursuing a hobby.
2. There is no guarantee of an improved academic outcome.
Research studies provide conflicting results when looking at the impact of homework on a student’s life. Younger students may benefit from a complete ban so that they can separate their home and classroom experiences. Even older students who perform projects outside of the school benefit from time restrictions on this responsibility. Design flaws exist on both sides of the clinical work that looks at this topic, so there is no definitive scientific conclusion that points to a specific result. It may be better to err on the side of caution.
3. Homework restrictions reduce issues with classroom burnout for students.
Homework stress is a significant problem in the modern classroom for K-12 students. Even kids in grade school are finding it a challenge to maintain their performance because of the pressure that daily assignments cause. About 1 in 4 teachers in North America say that there are direct adverse impacts that happen because of the amount of learning required of students today. It can also cause older students to drop out of school because they can’t stay caught up on the work that they need to do.
When students have a chance to have time to pursue interests outside of the classroom, then it can create healthier learning opportunities in the future for them.
4. Banning homework would give families more time to spend together.
One in three American households with children say that the homework assignments that teachers give are the primary source of stress in their home. When kids must complete their work by a specific deadline, then there is less time for families to do activities together. Instead of scheduling their time around their free hours, they must balance homework requirements in their plans. There are even fewer moments for parents to be involved in the learning process because of the specific instructions that students must follow to stay in compliance with the assignment.
5. Student health is adversely impacted by too many homework assignments.
Kids of any age struggle academically when they do not have opportunities to finish their homework by a specific deadline. It is not unusual for school administrators and some teachers to judge children based on their ability to turn work in on time. If a child has a robust work ethic and still cannot complete the work, the negative approach that they might encounter in the classroom could cause them to abandon their learning goals.
This issue can even lead to the development of mental health problems. It can reduce a child’s self-esteem, prevent them from learning essential learning skills, and disrupt their ability to learn new skills in other areas of life outside of the classroom. Even the risk of self-harm and suicide increase because of excessive homework. That’s why banning it could be a healthy choice for some people.
6. Banning homework would help students get more sleep.
Teens need up to 10 hours of sleep each night to maximize their productivity. Students in grade school can need up to 12 hours nightly as well. When homework assignments are necessary and time consuming, then this issue can eat into the amount of rest that kids get each night. Every assignment given to a K-12 student increases their risks of losing at least one hour of sleep per night. This issue can eventually lead to sleep deficits that can create chronic learning issues. It may even lead to problems with emotional control, obesity, and attention problems. Banning homework would remove the issue entirely.
7. It would encourage dynamic learning opportunities.
There are some homework projects that students find to be engaging, such as a science fair project or another hands-on assignment. Many of the tasks that students must complete for their teachers involves repetition instead. You might see grade school students coming home with math sheets with 100 or more problems for them to solve. Reading assignments are common at all grades. Instead of learning the “why” behind the information they learn, the goal with homework is usually closer to memorization that it is to self-discovery. That’s why it can be challenging to retain the data that homework provides.
8. Banning homework would provide more time for peer socialization.
Students who are only spending time in school before going home to do homework for the rest of the evening are at a higher risk of experiencing isolation and loneliness. When these sentiments are present in the life of a child, then they are more likely to experience physical and mental health concerns that lead to shyness and avoidance.
These students lack essential connections with other people because of their need to complete homework. The adverse impact on the well being of a child is the equivalent of smoking more than a pack of cigarettes each day. If kids are spending time all of their time on homework, then they are not connecting with their family and friends.
9. Some students do not have a home environment that’s conducive to homework.
Although some kids can do their homework in a tranquil room without distress, that is not the case for most children. Numerous events happen at home that can shift a child’s attention away from the homework that their teacher wants them to complete. It isn’t just the TV, video games, and the Internet which are problematic either. Family problems, chores, an after-school job, and team sports can make it problematic to get the assignments finished on time.
Banning homework equalizes the playing field because teachers can control the classroom environment. They do not have control over when, where, or how their students complete assignments away from school.
10. It would eliminate the assignment of irrelevant work.
Homework can be a useful tool when teachers use it in targeted ways. There are times when these assignments are handed out for the sake of giving out busy work. If the content of the work is irrelevant to the lessons in the classroom, then it should not be handed out. It is unreasonable to expect that a student can generate excellent grades on work that is barely covered in the classroom.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that given students just four hours of take-home assignments per week has a detrimental impact on individual productivity. The average U.S. high school already pushes that limit by offering 3.5 hours of extra assignments per week.
List of the Disadvantages of Why Homework Should Be Banned
1. Teachers can see if students understand the materials being taught.
Homework allows a teacher to determine if a student has a grasp on the materials being taught in the classroom. Tests and school-based activities can provide this information as well, but not in the same way. If the data sticks outside of the educational setting, then this is an excellent indication that the process was effective for that individual. If there are gaps in knowledge that occur in the homework, then the learning process can become individualized to ensure the best possible results for each child.
2. Homework can reduce the stress and anxiety of test-taking.
Students often study for tests at home to ensure that they can pass with an acceptable grade. Walking into a classroom only prepared with the notes and memories of previous lessons can create high levels of fear that could impact that child’s final result. Banning homework could place more pressure on kids to succeed than what they currently experience today. This disadvantage would also create more labels in the classroom based on the performance of each child in unfair ways. Some students excel in a lecture-based environment, but others do better at home where there are fewer distractions.
3. Assignments can be an effective way to discover learning disabilities.
Kids do an excellent job of hiding their struggles in the classroom from adults. They use their disguises as a coping mechanism to help them blend in when they feel different. That behavior can make it a challenge to identify students who many benefit from a different learning approach in specific subjects. By assigning homework to each child periodically, there are more opportunities to identify the issues that can hold some people back. Then the teachers can work with the families to develop alternative learning plans that can make the educational process better for each student because individual assignments eliminate the ability to hide.
4. Parents are more involved in the learning process because of homework.
Parents need to know what their children are learning in school. Even if they ask their kids about what they are learning, the answers tend to be given in generalities. Without specific examples from the classroom, it is challenging to stay involved in a student’s educational process.
By sending homework from the school, it allows the entire family to encounter the assignments that their kids are doing when they are in school during the day. Then there is more adult involvement with the learning process, reinforcing the core ideas that were discovered by their kids each day.
5. Homework provides opportunities for students to use deeper research.
The average classroom in the United States provides less than 60 minutes of instruction for each subject daily. Generalist teachers in grade school might skip certain subjects on some days as well. When there are homework assignments going home, then it creates more chances to use the tools at home to learn more about what is happening at school. Taking a deeper look at specific subjects or lessons through independent study can lead to new thoughts or ideas that may not occur in the classroom environment. This process can eventually lead to a better understanding of the material.
6. The homework process requires time management and persistence to be successful.
Students must learn core life skills as part of the educational process. Time management skills are one of the most useful tools that can be in a child’s life toolbox. When you know how to complete work by a deadline consistently, then this skill can translate to an eventual career. Homework can also teach students how to solve complex problems, understand current events, or tap into what they are passionate about in life. By learning from an early age that there are jobs that we sometimes need to do even if we don’t want to them, the persistence lessons can translate into real successes later in life.
7. Assignments make students accountable for their role in the educational process.
Teachers cannot force a student to learn anything. There must be a desire present in the child to know more for information retention to occur. An education can dramatically improve the life of a child in multiple ways. It can lead to more income opportunities, a greater understanding of the world, and how to establish a healthy routine. By offering homework to students, teachers are encouraging today’s kids how to be accountable for their role in their own education. It creates opportunities to demonstrate responsibility by proving that the work can be done on time and to a specific quality.
8. It creates opportunities to practice time management.
There can be problems with homework for some students when they are heavily involved in extra-curricular activities. If you give a child two hours of homework after school and they have two hours of commitments to manage at the same time, then there are some significant challenges to their time management to solve. Time really is a finite commodity. If we are unable to manage it in wise ways, then our productivity levels are going to be limited in multiple ways. Creating a calendar with every responsibility and commitment helps kids and their families figure out ways to manage everything while pushing the learning process forward.
Verdict of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Banning Homework
Some students thrive on the homework they receive from their teachers each day. There are also some kids that struggle to complete even basic assignments on time because of their home environment. How can we find a balance between the two extremes so that every child can receive the best possible chance to succeed?
One solution is to ban homework entirely. Although taking this action would require teachers and parents to be proactive in their communication, it could help to equalize the educational opportunities in the classroom.
Until more research occurs in this area, the advantages and disadvantages of banning homework are subjective. If you feel that your child would benefit from a reduced workload, then speak with the teacher to see if this is an option. For teens and older students, there is always the option to pursue a different form of education, such as a vocational school or an apprenticeship, if the traditional classroom doesn’t seem to be working.
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.