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Homework in High School: How Much Is Too Much?

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It’s not hard to find a high school student who is stressed about homework. Many are stressed to the max–juggling extracurricular activities, jobs, and family responsibilities. It can be hard for many students, particularly low-income students, to find the time to dedicate to homework. So students in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program at YouthBeat in Oakland, California are asking what’s a fair amount of homework for high school students?

TEACHERS: Guide your students to practice civil discourse about current topics and get practice writing CER (claim, evidence, reasoning) responses.  Explore lesson supports.

Is homework beneficial to students?

The homework debate has been going on for years. There’s a big body of research that shows that homework can have a positive impact on academic performance. It can also help students prepare for the academic rigors of college.

Does homework hurt students?

Some research suggests that homework is only beneficial up to a certain point. Too much homework can lead to compromised health and greater stress in students. Many students, particularly low-income students, can struggle to find the time to do homework, especially if they are working jobs after school or taking care of family members. Some students might not have access to technology, like computers or the internet, that are needed to complete assignments at home– which can make completing assignments even more challenging. Many argue that this contributes to inequity in education– particularly if completing homework is linked to better academic performance.

How much homework should students get?

Based on research, the National Education Association recommends the 10-minute rule stating students should receive 10 minutes of homework per grade per night. But opponents to homework point out that for seniors that’s still 2 hours of homework which can be a lot for students with conflicting obligations. And in reality, high school students say it can be tough for teachers to coordinate their homework assignments since students are taking a variety of different classes. Some people advocate for eliminating homework altogether.

Edweek: How Much Homework Is Enough? Depends Who You Ask

Business Insider: Here’s How Homework Differs Around the World

Review of Educational Research: Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003 Study suggests more than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive

The Journal of Experimental Education: Nonacademic Effects of Homework in Privileged, High-Performing High Schools

National Education Association: Research Spotlight on Homework NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

The Atlantic: Who Does Homework Work For?

Center for Public Education: What research says about the value of homework: Research review

Time: Opinion: Why I think All Schools Should Abolish Homework

The Atlantic: A Teacher’s Defense of Homework

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How Much Homework Is Too Much for Our Teens?

Here's what educators and parents can do to help kids find the right balance between school and home.

Does Your Teen Have Too Much Homework?

Today’s teens are under a lot of pressure.

They're under pressure to succeed, to win, to be the best and to get into the top colleges. With so much pressure, is it any wonder today’s youth report being under as much stress as their parents? In fact, during the school year, teens say they experience stress levels higher than those reported by adults, according to a previous American Psychological Association "Stress in America" survey.

Odds are if you ask a teen what's got them so worked up, the subject of school will come up. School can cause a lot of stress, which can lead to other serious problems, like sleep deprivation . According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night, but only 15 percent are even getting close to that amount. During the school week, most teens only get about six hours of zzz’s a night, and some of that sleep deficit may be attributed to homework.

When it comes to school, many adults would rather not trade places with a teen. Think about it. They get up at the crack of dawn and get on the bus when it’s pitch dark outside. They put in a full day sitting in hours of classes (sometimes four to seven different classes daily), only to get more work dumped on them to do at home. To top it off, many kids have after-school obligations, such as extracurricular activities including clubs and sports , and some have to work. After a long day, they finally get home to do even more work – schoolwork.

[Read: What Parents Should Know About Teen Depression .]

Homework is not only a source of stress for students, but it can also be a hassle for parents. If you are the parent of a kid who strives to be “perfect," then you know all too well how much time your child spends making sure every bit of homework is complete, even if it means pulling an all-nighter. On the flip side, if you’re the parent of a child who decided that school ends when the last bell rings, then you know how exhausting that homework tug-of-war can be. And heaven forbid if you’re that parent who is at their wit's end because your child excels on tests and quizzes but fails to turn in assignments. The woes of academics can go well beyond the confines of the school building and right into the home.

This is the time of year when many students and parents feel the burden of the academic load. Following spring break, many schools across the nation head into the final stretch of the year. As a result, some teachers increase the amount of homework they give. The assignments aren’t punishment, although to students and parents who are having to constantly stay on top of their kids' schoolwork, they can sure seem that way.

From a teacher’s perspective, the assignments are meant to help students better understand the course content and prepare for upcoming exams. Some schools have state-mandated end of grade or final tests. In those states these tests can account for 20 percent of a student’s final grade. So teachers want to make sure that they cover the entire curriculum before that exam. Aside from state-mandated tests, some high school students are enrolled in advanced placement or international baccalaureate college-level courses that have final tests given a month or more before the end of the term. In order to cover all of the content, teachers must maintain an accelerated pace. All of this means more out of class assignments.

Given the challenges kids face, there are a few questions parents and educators should consider:

Is homework necessary?

Many teens may give a quick "no" to this question, but the verdict is still out. Research supports both sides of the argument. Personally, I would say, yes, some homework is necessary, but it must be purposeful. If it’s busy work, then it’s a waste of time. Homework should be a supplemental teaching tool. Too often, some youth go home completely lost as they haven’t grasped concepts covered in class and they may become frustrated and overwhelmed.

For a parent who has been in this situation, you know how frustrating this can be, especially if it’s a subject that you haven’t encountered in a while. Homework can serve a purpose such as improving grades, increasing test scores and instilling a good work ethic. Purposeful homework can come in the form of individualizing assignments based on students’ needs or helping students practice newly acquired skills.

Homework should not be used to extend class time to cover more material. If your child is constantly coming home having to learn the material before doing the assignments, then it’s time to contact the teacher and set up a conference. Listen when kids express their concerns (like if they say they're expected to know concepts not taught in class) as they will provide clues about what’s happening or not happening in the classroom. Plus, getting to the root of the problem can help with keeping the peace at home too, as an irritable and grumpy teen can disrupt harmonious family dynamics .

[Read: What Makes Teens 'Most Likely to Succeed?' ]

How much is too much?

According to the National PTA and the National Education Association, students should only be doing about 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. But teens are doing a lot more than that, according to a poll of high school students by the organization Statistic Brain . In that poll teens reported spending, on average, more than three hours on homework each school night, with 11th graders spending more time on homework than any other grade level. By contrast, some polls have shown that U.S. high school students report doing about seven hours of homework per week.

Much of a student's workload boils down to the courses they take (such as advanced or college prep classes), the teaching philosophy of educators and the student’s commitment to doing the work. Regardless, research has shown that doing more than two hours of homework per night does not benefit high school students. Having lots of homework to do every day makes it difficult for teens to have any downtime , let alone family time .

How do we respond to students' needs?

As an educator and parent, I can honestly say that oftentimes there is a mismatch in what teachers perceive as only taking 15 minutes and what really takes 45 minutes to complete. If you too find this to be the case, then reach out to your child's teacher and find out why the assignments are taking longer than anticipated for your child to complete.

Also, ask the teacher about whether faculty communicate regularly with one another about large upcoming assignments. Whether it’s setting up a shared school-wide assignment calendar or collaborating across curriculums during faculty meetings, educators need to discuss upcoming tests and projects, so students don’t end up with lots of assignments all competing for their attention and time at once. Inevitably, a student is going to get slammed occasionally, but if they have good rapport with their teachers, they will feel comfortable enough to reach out and see if alternative options are available. And as a parent, you can encourage your kid to have that dialogue with the teacher.

Often teens would rather blend into the class than stand out. That’s unfortunate because research has shown time and time again that positive teacher-student relationships are strong predictors of student engagement and achievement. By and large, most teachers appreciate students advocating for themselves and will go the extra mile to help them out.

Can there be a balance between home and school?

Students can strike a balance between school and home, but parents will have to help them find it. They need your guidance to learn how to better manage their time, get organized and prioritize tasks, which are all important life skills. Equally important is developing good study habits. Some students may need tutoring or coaching to help them learn new material or how to take notes and study. Also, don’t forget the importance of parent-teacher communication. Most educators want nothing more than for their students to succeed in their courses.

Learning should be fun, not mundane and cumbersome. Homework should only be given if its purposeful and in moderation. Equally important to homework is engaging in activities, socializing with friends and spending time with the family.

[See: 10 Concerns Parents Have About Their Kids' Health .]

Most adults don’t work a full-time job and then go home and do three more hours of work, and neither should your child. It's not easy learning to balance everything, especially if you're a teen. If your child is spending several hours on homework each night, don't hesitate to reach out to teachers and, if need be, school officials. Collectively, we can all work together to help our children de-stress and find the right balance between school and home.

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How much homework should you be doing at high school?

How much homework should you be doing at high school?

Discussions about the merits of homework and how much or how little you should be doing have been raging for decades, but there is no one definitive answer about what the optimal amount of homework is or should be.

But you’re not here to hear how hard it is to work out how much homework and study you should be doing, you just want to know how much is enough.

We’re going to get to that in just a minute, but there are a few things to cover off first…

  • Excessive studying is unlikely to dramatically increase your academic outcomes.
  • Excessive study can be extremely bad for your physical and mental health.
  • Academic results are just one factor in your success, and excessive study can reduce the time and energy you have for other resume-boosting activities.

Too much study could be detrimental

Nothing is more important than your physical and mental health.

If you are:

  • Struggling at school
  • Feeling worried, anxious, or nervous about going to school or managing your workload
  • Often getting sick or not able to shake off colds and illnesses
  • Experiencing regular headaches, stomach problems, or unexplained weight loss or gains
  • Losing sleep

Then it’s really important that you speak to your parents / guardians as well as your teachers at school to let them know what’s going on and get some help.  All of the above have been linked to excessive workloads and poor life balance in students across multiple studies.

Working over the recommended limits of homework could also be reducing your motivation and focus, which won’t help you kick your academic goals.

You’ll also have less time to rest, exercise, play sport or take part in other hobbies, work, and spend time with family and friends which are all important factors in your development and social-emotional wellbeing too.

There’s lots of research to back this up

Homework and study is helpful to consolidate what you’ve been taught in the classroom, in learning to manage your own time successfully and to develop your study skills. But it’s not the only thing that counts.

Quality homework and study is far more important than spending mindless hours covering the same work again and again. Educational guru John Hattie ranks the effects of homework at 88 out of 138 influences on learning.

“Homework that is meaningful and driven by student input is linked to improving attitudes, knowledge and student retention…” (Corno, 2000)

In fact, there’s no link between the volume of study and academic outcomes – Korea, Japan, and Finland, for example, are countries who assign the least amounts of homework but are ranked among top countries for reading, maths and writing ( Programme of International Student Achievement (PISA) results from 2015 ).

Regardless of the quality of study, if it exceeds a certain limit then it will lead to a decline in performance .

Moderate amounts of time spent on homework are linked to better results, but a great deal … of time spent on homework is actually less productive. This means when middle school students spend more than an hour and a half a night there is a correlation with lower scores. (Cooper, et al., 2006)

A 2015 study also found that middle school students assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework began to see a fall in their maths and science test scores (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz,  2015 ).

One more thing to bear in mind

If you decide to go university after high school, the expectation is that you’ll be studying for around 40 hours per week, and that includes all of your lectures, seminars, and tutorials (it’s the also the equivalent of a full-time working role).

So if you’re doing 30 hours of school and thinking that you need to do a further 20 or more hours of study each week, then you’d be doing more than if you were studying at university or working full-time.

Remember that work-life balance is important at all ages and is a great skill to master early in life.

So, how much homework should you be doing?

We have looked at a number of scholarly articles and studies and this is what we’ve found:

  • Students in middle school should aim to do up to one hour of homework per weekday.
  • For students in lower senior school between one and two hours a day is reasonable.
  • If you’re in upper senior school then studying for 2 hours per day is a good amount of time to aim for.

Bear in mind that these times could vary depending on your workload. For example, if you’re taking more subjects than other students in your cohort, or if you’re taking part in extra programs, then the amount of study you may have to do could increase.

Around assessment and exam time then you might find you’re reaching the upper limits of the recommended homework times too, and that’s normal, but it shouldn’t be the norm for your entire school year.

The other thing to remember is that you don’t need to do all this study in big blocks – you can break it up. Read your notes on the bus or train on the way to school, watch a documentary that relates to your classwork, or start a project that extends what you’ve been doing at school. You can also count time spent studying with friends, or even talking with peers about your subjects, as long as you’re either learning or revising.

Ready to start studying?

Great! To get the most out of your study time we recommend that you:

  • Get organised. Make sure you have everything you need including a work space that helps you to focus without distractions if possible. Your school or community library perhaps if home is too busy?
  • Work out when your peak study times are – are you an early bird or a night owl?
  • Write a Study Plan and, most importantly, stick to it .
  • Remember to incorporate breaks into your study time.
“After about 15 minutes of learning and practising something – such as the Pythagorean theorem in maths – the regions of the brain activated in spatial-numerical learning get fatigued and need to rebuild the neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, that get depleted. The restoration only takes a few minutes if the break is timely, but if they are pushed to stay with that same process for too long, stress builds, neurotransmitters drop way down and it will take twice as long to restore full efficiency to that area of the brain.”  – Judy Willis

If you’re looking for more study tips and ideas, we’ve got lots to share – head over to this page .

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Are high school students being WORKED too Hard?

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Looking at high school students’ responsibilities, whether it be sports, academics or employment, there are quite a lot of things piled on their shoulders. High school students are being worked too hard and barely have any free time away from school and their responsibilities. Students who have jobs and after school activities can struggle to find time with how much work they’re given. 

“Students are overly stressed,” senior Jordyn Bliss said. “They have way too much pressure put on them by the school system and as a student going to school five days a week for seven hours a day.” 

In a Google Form survey that was presented to Fenton High students on March 3, where 40 responses were recorded on the topic of sleep and homework during the school week, 32.5 percent said they only receive an average of six hours of sleep per night. The Centers for Disease Control stated in an article that teenagers 13-18 should sleep 8-10 hours a night, and getting less than eight hours is not enough time for teenagers to function through a school day and after school activities. 

“I believe that assigning excessive amounts of homework to a student is not okay for their mental and physical well-being,” sophomore Kyla Marx responded to this form by saying. “By assigning excessive amounts of homework each night, students are not getting the recommended hours of sleep they need to be able to function during the day. There is time for school, and then there is time for home, and I feel that those two things should remain separate. Students should not be staying up until one in the morning working on school work outside of school hours. They should be participating in out of school activities and actually enjoying themselves rather than stressing themselves out and developing an unstable mindset.”

On top of a seven-hour, five-day week, students are taught six subjects a day, which doesn’t leave enough time for employment, sports or any extra curricular activities. On top of not having time for other activities, little motivation is left after a seven-hour school day to do homework.  

Time management is a huge aspect of school work. Students are taught at a young age that a worksheet can take from 15 minutes to an hour. Students also know that when they get home and do homework immediately, they could have more time later for other activities. 

According to an article by The Washington Post, “High schoolers reported an average of 2.7 hours of homework per weeknight.” That accumulates to around 7.7 hours for the five days students are at school. From the Google Form information collected from FHS students, 25 percent of students only spend an hour on homework a night during weekdays, while 22.5 percent of students spend 2 hours a night on homework. 

If each class teacher gives homework to students, they have a responsibility to finish the work that night. “If teachers gave students less homework and more time in class to ask questions,” Bliss said, “students wouldn’t be as stressed about how much homework they have to finish that night.”

On top of homework, students may have jobs they attend to after school, which doesn’t give them much time to finish homework. Some jobs may be part-time, but with a school schedule, they are attended at night. In Michigan, students ages 14-15 are allowed eight hours of work per day and 48 hours per week. For students ages 16-17, they can work up to 24 hours during the school week, according to Michigan Labor Laws. 

Some students are also a part of extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs. Being a part of these activities can cause students to have less time to do the work they are assigned. “As a student athlete it is hard sometimes to finish school work on time,” senior Jessica Dunkel said. “Most nights I am up until midnight trying to finish school work after getting home from practice. It’s stressful to have to worry all practice whether or not I can get my work done tonight or rush through finishing it in classes the next day.” 

Between sports, a job and multiple pages of homework a night, high school students are worked too hard. Teenagers shouldn’t have to worry whether or not they can finish the hours of homework given in class that day. Students shouldn’t have to leave a seven-hour school day to be followed home with school work. 

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High School Students are Being Worked Too Hard

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Katelynn Wilson , Contributor October 27, 2021

When looking at the responsibilities that a high school student has, there are many things that are piled on top of them. Between homework, jobs and sports, high school students hardly get any free time. Personally, with all the responsibilities that teenagers have, I believe that they are being worked way too hard. Between all the homework that students are assigned, how many hours of work they do, and the sports they participate in, teens are constantly being worked past their limits.

When students are assigned homework, many teachers may think that one or two pages of homework isn’t a lot. What they don’t realize is that if a student is taking five classes, that can add up to ten pages of homework to do that night on top of other responsibilities that a student might have. Let alone ten pages of homework is way too much homework for one student to get done in one night. Personally, ten pages of homework, depending on the classes I would be taking, could take me approximately 3-4 hours. 

On top of homework, most students in high school also have jobs that they have to attend. Many high school students I have encountered have part-time jobs that they attend almost nightly. They may not be working for six hours at a time, but some do. In the state of Vermont, students are only allowed to work 18 hours a week during a school week and 40 hours on a non-school week. Although 18 hours a week during a school week may not seem like a lot, it may be a lot on the students who have a lot of homework to complete and sports practice to attend. Many students that have work and practice to go to often do not complete their homework. 

Some may argue that jobs aren’t required for teenagers. But there are many things that teens need to earn money for. Many teenagers have cars that they have to pay for the insurance and car payments. Although some parents might pay for their child’s car and insurance, not all parents have the financial abilities to do so. Some teenagers  get jobs to be able to pay for their post-secondary education . Therefore, this often puts teens in a position where they feel the need to get a job to pay for these costs. 

Teens that also play sports have practice every night and occasionally games to play. On average, high school students have six to seven-and-a-half hours of sports practice a week. But six to seven-and-a-half hours is just an average, and there are many sports that require more practice than that such as gymnastics that require anywhere between one to forty plus hours a week . 

High school students are definitely being worked way harder than they should be. Between having many pages of homework to complete, jobs to work and sports to practice, teenagers are constantly being pushed beyond their limits.

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4 Ways to Make Homework Easier

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Homework can seem overwhelming at times, especially in high school. One of the biggest challenges of being a high school student is learning how you work best — and this can look a little different for everyone.

Luckily, you can try many different strategies to find what works best for you.

1. Create a Homework Plan

Understand the assignment. Write it down wherever you keep track of your assignments, such as a notebook or an app on your phone. Don't be afraid to ask questions about what's expected. It's much easier to ask the teacher during or after class than to struggle to remember later that night. Consider asking your teachers how long they expect specific assignments to take.

Start as soon as you can. Use any free periods during your school day to start your homework. If you don’t have any free periods, take a few minutes to look at all your assignments during school so you have a chance to ask questions before you go home.

Budget your time. It’s normal for students to have a few hours of homework a night. If it's a heavy homework day, you'll need to devote more time to it. Try to come up with a homework schedule, especially if you're involved in extracurriculars or have an after-school job.

2. Find a Good Place to Work

When you settle down to study or do homework, where do you do it? Parked in front of the TV? In the kitchen, with other family members distracting you? Maybe these places worked when you were younger and homework was simpler, but your homework is probably more complicated now.

Find a place to focus. You'll do best if you can find a place to get away from distractions, like a bedroom or study. If your house is noisy no matter where you go, try searching online for study music, anything you find relaxing or inspiring. This can help drown out noise in your environment — just be mindful of the volume so you don’t hurt your ears.

Make sure you feel comfortable. Sit at a desk or table that’s comfortable, or try spreading out on the floor. It’s usually best to avoid your bed because you might get sleepy or have trouble sleeping later on. As long as you find a spot where you feel comfortable (and not tired), you’ll be able to focus.

3. Get to Work

Get in the right mood. If you start working while you feel stressed out, anxious, or otherwise in a bad mood, you may not get much done. Try practicing a mindfulness or breathing exercise before getting started, even just for a few minutes. These will help you focus better.

Decide where to start. Some people like to start with the easy assignments to get them out of the way, while others prefer to tackle the more challenging assignments first. Consider which strategy will work better for you. Try both and see if you notice a difference.

Keep moving. If you get stuck, try to figure out the problem, but don't spend too much time on it because you need time for your other assignments. If you need to, ask someone for help, like an adult or sibling. You could also text a classmate — just do your best to stay on topic.

Take breaks. Most people have short attention spans. Sitting for too long without stretching or relaxing will make you less productive than if you stop every so often. Taking a 15-minute break every hour is a good idea for most people. (If you're really concentrating, wait until it's a good time to stop.)

4. Get Help When You Need It

Even when you pay attention in class, study for tests, and do your homework, some subjects may still seem too hard. Don’t be afraid to ask for homework help — from teachers, counselors, friends, or family members. They'll respect your honesty and most are happy to help.


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  2. What Are the Disadvantages of Homework?

    The Center for Public Education states that the disadvantages of homework vary.

  3. Why Is Homework Good?

    Homework is good because it gives students a chance to practice and internalize information presented during classroom lessons. It also encourages parents to get involved in the student’s education.

  4. Is high school hard? How much homework is there? How do I

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    There's a lot of pressure to study hard in high school, and you should always give it your best shot, but how much is too much?

  9. Are high school students being WORKED too Hard?

    ... have extracurriculars. Almost all people have to do their homework. It is normal to have homework every.

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    homework, some subjects may still seem too hard. Don't be afraid to ask for