Homework for Elementary School Students

March 16, 2020
Homework for elementary school students is a controversial issue. There are a number of differing theories regarding whether or not it's good for young children to do schoolwork at home. Today we'll look at a recent study about homework overload and its consequences.

During the elementary school stage, children are assuming new and important tasks. For example, the importance of having their own responsibilities. Homework for elementary school students and its execution are part of these responsibilities.

It’s important to be very careful with this issue. Many times, we find children who have so many assignments to do that they’re exhausted before they even begin. Just the thought of all they have to do is overwhelming.

There are new studies that have shed some light on the reason behind this sense of exhaustion. Research shows that the overload that elementary school students experience doesn’t only cause academic stress… It also affects their mental and physical health. And, as you can imagine, this makes learning difficult.

Today, we’re going to concentrate on a recent study directed by Mollie Galloway in Portland, Oregon. The study shows that students who spend more time doing homework get more involved in school. However, we can’t overlook the fact that these same students tend to suffer more anxiety. In fact, they also report physical symptoms resulting from stress.

Homework for Elementary School Students

“Although students had an average of over three hours of homework per day, most of them didn’t think the homework was attractive or that it improved their learning.”

– Mollie Galloway –

Stress related to homework for elementary school students

Homework assignments tend to act as stress factor in the lives of children… And their bodies must find a way to react to this stress factor. While the Galloway study has demonstrated that a certain level of stress can be healthy, chronic stress can induce negative symptoms. These can be physical, mental, or behavior related.

The researchers measured the physical and mental well-being of students with questions. For example, “How often do you feel stressed about your school experience?” They also asked questions about health in regard to stress, like the appearance of headaches, weight gain, and even difficulty sleeping.

The usefulness of homework

Of the students who answered these questions about homework, only 6% answered that they found their assignments to be “very useful” in preparing them for learning, exams, papers, and projects.

Students also expressed frustration regarding their workload. They provided answers like: “There’s never time to rest, there’s always something else you should be doing.”

The overload of homework for elementary school students

The researchers concluded that homework overload can limit a person’s ability to learn.

“Our study suggests that [students who are overloaded] experience higher levels of stress and more physical problems like sweating, headaches, exhaustion, stomach problems, and/or sleeping difficulties.”

– Mollie Galloway –

Furthermore, these students reported a general lack of balance in their lives. If they have to choose between finishing their homework or doing other things, they choose their homework. They could be participating in social or physical activities, but those aren’t the options they choose.

There are also prior studies that have demonstrated that assigning too much homework for elementary students can reduce the effectiveness of learning. The homework actually ends up being counterproductive.

Homework for Elementary School Students

What can teachers do?

Teachers should know not to assign so much homework that it frustrates and overloads studentsBelow are some recommendations from Doctor Galloway to help educators find the right balance:

  • Students and teachers must know the purpose of homework. In other words, students must be able to identify the purpose of each exercise.
  • Teachers shouldn’t limit themselves to grading homework as “complete” or “incomplete.” In each unit, they should seek to use content that will facilitate the learning experience.
  • Students and teachers should participate together in the creation of homework assignments. They can find a variety of forms to construct and expand their learning of a concept or theme.

Therefore, it’s important to always remember that the fact that students are doing more homework doesn’t mean they’re doing more learning. Seeking a balance between doing homework, fulfilling objectives, and free time is fundamental during elementary school.

  • Mollie Galloway , Jerusha Conner & Denise Pope. Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools. The Journal of Experimental Education. Portland (2013).