With summer officially coming to a close and with school starting back up again, many households are once again experiencing a shift in day-to-day life. One big shift may come to families with children attending school and the increasing stress that brings.
Studies show that in the past decade, teachers on average are prescribing more and more homework for students. The reason for more homework differs between regions and even between classrooms. Some studies show that for homework to be truly effective it must be tailored to the individual student based on areas they either excel in or need work on. This must then be followed up with consultation from the teacher to better grasp the concepts being taught.
However, homework so individually tailored to every student is very difficult as teachers literally cannot afford the time. With nationwide budget cuts to education, surveys show that even a $1,000 budget cut can lead to about 4 less teachers being hired at a school. This increases the ratio of students to teachers, and forces even the most attentive, well-meaning teachers to prescribe more generalized, uniform homework. The result is homework that is more akin to busywork.
The buildup of homework can be detrimental to children and teenagers, not only from the stress it can create but by subtracting time from their evenings to live. Several studies show that spending more time outside can reduce stress, increase one’s ability to focus, diminish symptoms of ADHD, and can increase physical activity and health. Being able to spend time with friends and family is also very important to mental health and development. When your school day is already 6-8 hours long, an additional 2-4 hours of homework every night eats away at precious time.
If your child is experiencing stress from a consistent overload of homework, there may be some things you can do to help. Aside from reaching out to the teachers with concerns about too much homework being prescribed, you can help your child at home. Some tactics include aiding by teaching them better time management. By setting time limits for each subject, or setting time limits based on the amount of work, your child can begin to learn to focus better and tackle the homework faster and more efficiently.
Create an environment with minimal distractions so your child join you or their siblings at a communal table to help alleviate the isolation that can come with homework, and to help them stay on task if they do get distracted.
And of course, having patience and understanding can help create a safe space and trusted connection. School and homework can be extremely stressful, just like any job in adulthood. Having that understanding can help alleviate some stress in your child’s life.
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