Back to School Topics: Are early school start times hurting students? Should parents help with homework?

It’s the start of a new school year and the homework has already started piling up. A recent survey found that students cited homework as the number 1 cause of stress in their life!

So does homework actually improve academic performance and should parents get involved?

A review of 20 years of research found the following:

  • In High School – 1 hour of homework resulted in better academic performance
  • In Junior high – less than 1 hour of homework resulted in better academic performance. But if they are doing 1-2 hours a night – the benefits fade.
  • In grade school (K-6), the link between homework and good grades is less clear.



  1. Research shows that parental involvement has a positive benefit – but only for elementary and high school; not for middle school

Why not in middle school? Children are going through a major developmental transition where they are seeking independence and autonomy so there can be conflict between the parent and the child that affects homework completion.

  1. What kind of parental involvement is helpful?

Direct aid – parental instruction, helping the child with time-on-task, guide them

  1. What kind of parental involvement is NOT helpful?

Monitoring - Beware the helicopter parent. This kind of involvement is often viewed as controlling rather than helpful.


Sleep Deprivation Undermines Classroom Performance.

When over 500 high school students kept journals of their sleep habits for two weeks, one study found:

  • Less Sleep = worse performance.

WHY? Working Memory does double duty – it has to do it’s job PLUS the job of the brain’s language center (think of the tip of the tongue phenomenon when you are tired)

TIPS for your child to get better sleep

  • Learn before bedtime – one study found that when participants learned information just before bedtime, they remembered it better than those who learned the same information during the day.


  • Turn of the blue light (light emitted from electronics, computers)
    • Blue light suppresses production of Melatonin – regulates sleep cycle
    • Result: Increase feeling of sleepiness