Down with Homework

by Heidi Nord September 21, 2016

Down with Homework


One major issue in education is homework. I believe we should completely eliminate homework at the elementary school level (and possibly at other levels too).

Research studies on homework have shown that it is of no help to elementary school students and of only a little use to middle school learners. I personally think it ADDS STRESS to a family situation, making homework actually worse for families.

For starters, in my experience as a teacher, a change in instruction has the biggest impact on education, and it’s impossible for teachers to improve their teaching when they’re using so much time planning homework tasks, reminding students to do their homework, checking that it’s been done, and then grading it all.


Subtract planning time for homework and add the same amount of time to offer another educational activity.

I'm guessing most parents can imagine what it’s like, educating thirty students. Being a teacher is not an easy occupation, not in the least. Every single minute needs to be used wisely.

What I suggest is, instead of putting valuable planning time into preparing and grading homework, that time could be spent in changing instruction, which is shown to increase learning far more than giving homework.

Teachers in the U.S. have very little time to plan their lessons. By expecting so much homework, we’re just adding to their burdens, and not allowing them to do their jobs effectively. 

I think homework stops teachers doing the best for our kids as it overwhelms them without even doing much to help children learn. In addition, I also think that it’s creating all kinds of stress in our families.

We’re very off-balance in the U.S.

What with two full time working parents often working forty to sixty hours a week, and kids in school for seven or eight hours a day, families are exhausted when they get home.

It takes time to eat right, exercise, relax and have fun to ease the stresses of the day, but, for most of us, after a brief time-out, the evening then becomes about nagging kids to do homework, which they may be resistant to doing.

This leads to a lot of tension and negativity in families which wouldn’t arise without the pressure of homework.

For students who are from socio-economically deprived backgrounds, there might be stresses about meeting basic needs, like wondering where their next meal is coming from, which may mean they do not have a good environment to study.

But, when they arrive at school the next day, the teacher punishes them for not doing their homework, not really realizing what’s going on or how difficult things already are for them.

In this way, homework makes life even harder for kids who are already dealing with tough circumstances.

Even if homework can be seen to make some difference to test scores in middle and high school education, I would argue that we also really need to consider whether test scores are an adequate measure of success.

Universities are now saying that students are coming to them so stressed about gaining top grades that they’re not valuing the learning process, and I think this shows we are losing our way in terms of the question,

"What is true success?"

Education should not just be about external validation based on test scores, but about the broader learning experience.

The debate about homework has been going on for over a century, but I do think we desperately need more balance.

Less homework at the elementary and middle school levels would lead to less stressed teachers, students, and happier families, allowing more time for the self-care and fun which is badly needed in our busy lives and helping kids learn as they do this best when they are relaxed and happy.

I say, “Down with homework”! What do you think? I’d love to hear your views.

Heidi, The Brilliant Dyslexic

Heidi Nord
Heidi Nord


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