“The Homework Ate My Family”

The above title is a quote from the video (shown above) produced by the Bookings Institute: Homework in America.  I came across the video while researching the impacts of homework.  As a parent, I hate homework.  It controls what we do every evening.  Everything depends on the amount of homework my children were assigned each night.  It causes my children to make sacrifices with their sleep and their own interest.  Most of the time I do not see the relevance of my children’s homework – it appears to be busy work. Technology and creativity are often lacking in the assignments.  As a teacher, I hate homework, as I think it contributes to the achievement gap.  Homework is completed outside of the school environment which is not controlled by the teacher and is different for every student.  Teachers assign homework thinking or hoping that every child goes home to a happy family with emotional and physical support.  That just isn’t true.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is “food for the brain” and “skipping it can be harmful.”  The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers get 8-10 hours of sleep per night.  Do teenagers have enough time to get the recommended amount of sleep?  If a teenager gets up at 6:30 am and requires an average of nine hours of sleep, the teenager needs to go to bed at 9:30 pm.  Teenagers who participate in sports or after school activities arrive at home just in time for dinner (6:30 pm in my house).  That leaves only two hours until bed time.  Should all of this time be spent doing homework?  Teenagers need time to relax, read a book, and enjoy life.

I often hear “Maybe they should give up volleyball or being in the youth symphony.”   I remind them that it isn’t a question of handling the rigor of homework, but finding the time to do it.  Teenagers already put in nearly eight hours at school, so why do they need to do overtime?  Are we required to do overtime at our jobs in order to be successful?  Do we do that overtime right before we go to bed or sacrifice sleep to succeed?

Etta Kralovec and Hohn Buell, co-authors of the book “The End of Homework:  How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning” and that “Educators should stop squeezing time out of family life for the questionable benefits of homework.”  In the article, End Homework Now, they explain the myths that surround homework and how families need time to teacher their children too.

Teachers across the nation are starting the trend of “no homework” and are in support of kids being kids.  In the article Down With Homework:  Teacher’s Viral Note Tells of Growing Attitude, Young, a second grade teacher, informs the parents of her homework policy.  In the note Young said, “After much research this summer, I am trying something new. I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success.  Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your children to bed early.”

Results from a survey done by the Today Show in 2014 showed that 75% of parents support a no homework policy.  The segment highlights some of the homework policies of schools across the nation.  While some school have switched to no homework, other schools have switched to no grading homework policies.  Most schools have done nothing, because it is a “contentious issue among parents.”

Not only does too much homework create less time for families, it could be making children ill.  In the article, Is Homework Making Your Child Sick?  Amanda Enayati states that “research shows that some students are doing more than three hours of homework a night – and that all that school work may be literally making them sick.”  Enayati discusses research that showed the correlation between excessive homework and physical health problems.   She also reported that the study indicated that “56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives.”

Is homework really necessary?  Is it worth out children’s health?  What is more important in the long run?


[Brookings Institute]. (May 17, 2014). Homework in America:  The Homework Ate My Family. [Video File]. Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArKr1exR2rg.

Enayati, A. (2014, March 21). Is homework making your child sick? Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/21/health/homework-stress/

Kralovec, E., & Buell, J. (2001). End Homework Now. Educational Leadership, 39-42. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr01/vol58/num07/End-Homework-Now.aspx

National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

Pawlowski, A. (2014, September 08). How a “no-homework” policy is working for these schools. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://www.today.com/parents/schools-try-no-homework-policies-amid-complaints-about-overload-1D80128324

Slotkin, J. (2016, August 24). Down With Homework: Teacher’s Viral Note Tells Of Growing Attitude. Retrieved April 12, 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/08/24/491227557/down-with-homework-teachers-viral-note-tells-of-growing-attitude

Teens and Sleep. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2017, from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep

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