The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of Homework


A recent article in the NYPost highlighted the growing trend for parents to pay someone to do their child’s homework – like an “assistant” that is a necessity for a busy 8-grader who has to juggle the pressure of school and extra curricular activities.

While this growing trend to “outsource” homework is new, parents stepping in to help their children with homework is not.

So is this a problem – and what really is the point of homework? This is an issue that divides people:


In one camp, you have organizations that suggest that homework is good because:

·      it reinforces what’s being taught in the classroom

·      parents can engage in their child’s education

·      it teaches the child skills like time management and organization



According to a Stanford study too much homework leads to:

•Stress: 56% of the students surveyed considered homework a primary source of stress. Less than 1% of the students said homework was not a stressor.

•Poor health: Many students reported sleep deprivation, headaches, stomach problems, weight loss, and exhaustion.



Often teens spend over 3 hours a night on homework. But organization such as National Parent Teacher Association suggests that there should be no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade. This means that the 12th grader should not be doing more than 2 hours a night.

In fact, a survey of almost 8000 school children found that more than 1 hour of homework is actually counter-productive:

·      Those who did almost 2 hours of homework per day performed WORSE on standardized tests than those with less homework.

·      Those with only small amounts of homework students scored nearly 50 points higher on standardized test than those who had large amounts of homework. 


What can you do as a parent?

Use the Tom Sawyer Effect

When Tom Sawyer was asked to paint his aunt’s fence – he converted work to play.  The end result – boys in the neighborhood were lining up to play!

Tom Sawyer utilized an important lesson in motivation – intrinsic motivation gets better results than extrinsic motivation. If a child enjoys doing an activity, they don’t need a reward to keep doing it.

Take Home: encourage your child to see the value or enjoyment in doing a homework activity and they will be intrinsically motivated to complete it.