This 8th grade year, I am on two soccer teams, the school jazz band and regular band. I have had a lot of trouble juggling all this and all the homework that I get. If this is so hard for me, imagine how hard it is for someone who has even more after school activities and even more homework! Because of my after school activities, I get home at 6:00 pm, a reasonable hour, but then I have homework, which, on some nights, makes me stay up, stressed, doing it until 10:00 or 11:00 pm! This is crazy! Why am I, a middle schooler, getting 4-5 hours of homework a night?! Every night students are losing sleep, being stressed, and using up their free time all because of mostly pointless after-school work. Students should not have to spend hours and hours on homework each night.
Students all around the world are losing sleep due to homework. This causes students to perform worse in class and on tests–the opposite of what homework is supposed to do. I’m not saying students should not get any homework. In moderation, it’s good. But currently some students are getting anywhere from 3 hours to 6 hours of homework. That’s too much! A study from the academic journal Child Development backs this up finding when students lose sleep from excessive studying and/or staying up to finish homework, their understanding of material and ability to excel on tests and/or class work declines. The researchers in this study read the diaries of around 100 students who recorded the duration of time spent on homework and the amount of sleep they got and found out that most of those students missed out on an eight-hour sleep schedule and struggled to understand lessons, instructions and questions the next day. In another study, researchers from Stanford University asked students whether they experienced sleep deprivation as a result of homework, and most of the students surveyed answered that they did. In addition, medical problems can come with losing sleep. According to Camille Peri, author and winner of the American Book Award, losing sleep repeatedly can increase your chance of having heart disease, a heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes. I can think of many times when I have had to stay up late, rushing to finish homework. I remember one night I got home with my planner full of homework. I didn’t procrastinate, but I had to stay up until around 12:30 am. I was very tired the next day, and I could barely concentrate. It is clear that homework can affect students very negatively if it takes away from their sleep hours.
In addition to losing sleep, students are being stressed out over homework–even moreso than some adults are over their work. You may think something along the lines of: “Students only get stressed about tests. Homework is easy,” but no. Researchers from Stanford University held a survey which found that 56 percent of the students surveyed thought of homework as their main source of stress. 43 percent viewed tests as their main source of stress, while 33 percent said that the most stress came from the pressure to get good grades. Less than 1 percent of the students said that homework was not a factor in stress. This stress put on kids as a result of homework causes many health problems. In another Stanford University study, researchers found that students who get an average of three hours of homework per night experience more stress, physical health issues and absence of balance in their lives. An article written by Jeanne Segal, Ph.D, states that stress can cause memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, short temper, inability to relax and depression. This means that homework is directly affecting student’s well being. Why would teachers do this to students?
Students are dropping after-school activities because of homework. This is unacceptable! It’s a fact that colleges all around the world look for students who do interesting things after school. So why do elementary, middle and high schools, which are meant to prepare you for college, take time away from the activities that will help you get into college? According to a survey done in California a sample of 4,317 students, most said that they were likely to drop after-school activities and not pursue their extracurricular activities due to homework. Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth, wrote, in a 2007 article, that “After coming home from a 6-hour school day students are given additional assignments that take more time off their day. This leaves almost no time for kids to participate in other activities.” I hope that schools will realize this mistake and assign less homework. I have neglected some of my after-school activities, such as jazz band, due to homework. Yesterday I had to skip my jazz band practice due to a science paper that I needed to complete. I wish I didn’t have to skip this activity that I enjoy for homework.
Lastly, with all the homework students get, they lose time with family and friends. Think back; has there ever been a time in your life when a family member has come to visit for a couple of days, but you could barely spend any time with them because of homework? I know this has happened to me. Time with family and friends is one of the most important things in life. Spending time with loved ones helps kids later in life because, as they have these social interactions, they learn essential social skills that will help them greatly in job interviews, college interviews and even just in life in general. Without social skills, kids will grow up nervous, hesitant and shy. According to the textbook, Child Psychology, social interaction plays a critical role in brain development. Children who get many opportunities to interact with friends and family gain valuable social, conflict management and impulse control skills. And as homework amount reduces the time for these opportunities, children’s social development suffers. A 2003 “Review of Educational Research” study found that students who have trouble with homework or who get a lot of homework each night can experience negative effects in their family and social relationships. Social skills are necessary in children’s development. I hope that schools will see this and reduce the amount of homework students receive.
Most people think that homework helps kids learn, memorize new information, and perform well in school. In truth some homework does. But, not the hours of busy work students are getting a night. All this does is stress students out, uses up their sleep and free time and dampens their in-school performance.
Imagine a world without homework. Students would get out of school and have no worries. No papers to stress about. No essays to stay up late over. No projects to work on, instead of spending time with friends or family. And no reason to skip fun after-school activities. Students would be able to get out of school and have fun, forget the worries of the day and spend time doing things they enjoy. Doesn’t this sound great? Yes? Then let’s work to get there.