Some Kids Have Three Times The Suggested Amount Of Homework, Study Suggests

Academic studies can be fascinating... and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background
After enduring an entire day's worth of school, how much time should children really be spending on homework? In 2006, the National Education Association decided on the "10-minute rule" after research suggested that the optimal amount of time for nightly homework was 10 minutes per grade level. But new researchers had a hunch that kids were a bit more overloaded than this, so they conducted a study, now published in The American Journal of Family Therapy , to find out.

The Setup
Surveys were given out at pediatric offices to 1,173 parents who had children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Parents answered questions about their children's homework, school performance and stress. Questions dealt with the amount of homework kids had, the number of days a week they worked on it, the time it took them to complete it, how many extracurricular activities were sacrificed as a result of it and parent engagement with it.

It's important to note that the researchers relied on parents' perceptions of their children's work load -- they didn't objectively establish the actual amount of homework kids had.

The Findings
After analyzing the responses, the researchers found that the amount of homework did increase as kids moved through school. But not in the suggested pattern: Those in kindergarten through 2nd grade had up to three times as much the recommended amount of homework. While the "10-minute rule" doesn't technically apply to kindergarteners, the study found that these 5-year-old kids averaged 25 minutes of homework per day , which "may be both taxing for the parents and overwhelming for the children," the researchers wrote.

The Takeaway
Is all this homework worth it? That's something research has yet to prove. Studies are fairly ambiguous when it comes to whether or not extra homework helps students achieve more, but there has been compelling research to suggest that too much homework may actually be harmful for kids. This is especially important to consider for the younger children who are "focused on early stages of socialization and finessing motor skills," according to the researchers.

The researchers also pointed out that bogging kids down with homework may cause them to lose out on valuable play time, which has been shown to help them behave better in class, tap into their creativity, regulate their emotions and get the much-needed physical activity to counteract all of that sitting they're doing in school.

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