Homework Is a Waste of Time

homeworkNo, my son didn't hijack my computer and write that headline, it's true, according to researchers. A new study says that, with the exception of the last couple of years of high school, homework provides few, if any, benefits to students; it may even impede their learning.

So all of that time I spend trying to coerce my second grader to sit down and complete his assignments, and all the breath I expend trying to explain why homework is so important to his future is all a big waste? Yes, say Australian researchers who included 10,000 children in their study. They concluded that children could be better served spending that homework time doing something else more beneficial. They even went so far as to say that only students in senior high should do homework.

"There are other things kids want to do that are very valuable things for them to be doing," researcher Dr. Richard Walker told The Daily Telegraph. As CNN pointed out, you may want to hide this article from your children.

The theory with homework has usually been that children need time for self-directed learning -- an important skill for sure. Only very children in grade school and middle school self direct themselves when they do homework. Instead parents are usually sitting there right beside them, assisting and teaching them as well. I didn't believe this before my son started school and actually scoffed when people told me how much of my time his homework would take, but it's true. He's an excellent student, but his homework still requires me most nights. So if it's not self-directed learning they're acquiring, then why make them (and us) sit there?

I think there will always be some projects that are better done at home -- perhaps things like book reports or other research-based projects. But the daily worksheets and other regular activities could seemingly be worked better into the school day so that their time after school could be better spent on physical activity, reading for pleasure, and just plain old kid fun, which so many seem to have little time for today.

With American education falling so far behind much of the rest of the world, it's hard to argue that our students need to do less work. But as the saying goes, sometimes less is more. A good education for my children is one of my highest priorities in life, but if homework is a waste, then let's stop wasting valuable time.

Do you think homework is a waste of time?


Image via woodleywonderworks/Flickr


elementary school, in the news, homework


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nonmember avatar Shannon

I think homework is fine, but it should be chosen carefully by teachers so it actually supports what you've been doing in class and students can do it independently. I started having homework in first grade, and my parents only helped if I was completely stumped. They didn't fix my mistakes because they knew it was supposed to show the teacher how well I'd learned the material. And PPs are right, to go from no homework your entire life to homework in every subject in high school would be a disaster. You need to develop good study habits over time so that by the time you go off to college, you're able to study, write papers and pass your classes.

Littl... LittleFrogsMA

Math homework is necessary.  Math is a skill and you develop skills through practice.  Math homework isn't about self directed learning. It is about practice and mastery.

nonmember avatar jeannie

I believe the only home work should be review sheets sent home before tests, book reports, spelling words and reading assignments of good books. My nephew is in 7th grade and almost every night he has a good 3 to 4 hours of home work. Between school, and then track meets/practice he doesnt get home till 6pm most nights. Then eats, showers and does his home work. He is not in bed till 11 most nights and his bed time is 930. And hes back up again at 6am to get ready for school. The amount of homework he has to do is ridiculous, sleep and down time are very important and he just doesnt seem to get any.

jasmi... jasmineg86

so good study habits are supposed to magically appear in high school in college? and you're ok with not having a road map for what you child is studying? do you know how helpful parents can be to their kids in reinforcing what they are learning at home? no wonder we fall so far behind as a country. education is not something they do for 6 hours and stop- it needs to be integrated into everything. its amazing that some parents will spend hours researching educational products, shows, & toys for infants and toddlers- but heaven forbid they spend 30 minutes on homework or ask simple conversions when measuring ingredients for dinner or asking their kids to tell them what happened in the book they are reading (please god, let the child be reading a book!!)

i agree that homework should not be an hour long process for a grade schooler- but please stop deluding yourself into thinking 15-30 minutes of reinforcement/ study skill development is not important!

mjande4 mjande4

I agree with Jasmine.  The idea that kids will just magically begin doing homework because they are in high school is laughable.

the4m... the4mutts

No, it is not a waste. My 5 year old "self directs". So does my 8 year old. They LOVE their homework. They take pride in it, and turning it in on time. It also gives me a little more insight into what they are learning, without needing a parent/teacher conference once a week.

Homework will stay in my house. If the school didn't give it, I would BEG them to.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

I totally disagree. I loved homework when I was in school, it meant I could work in peace without people bugging me. My son is in first grade and his homework only takes 5-10 minutes a night because he knows what he is doing but it still teaches him good study habits. If a kid is taking longer than that or needs parental help then clearly they need the extra work at home to catch up.

the4m... the4mutts

Oh, and as far as "aimlessly" doing homework, that doesn't happen here either. Or, it doesn't happen YET. My kids love doing their HW while I cook. They'll sit at the kitchen table, and take turns doing a problem, and telling me how they got that answer, while I cook. It gives us more interraction, and keeps me from having to actually look at the homework, to correct it. I can tell them, "close, but try again", and never have to stop what I'm doing.

It has also already taught their 2&4yr old siblings counting, addition, and subtraction. They listened, and POOF!! One day they just started counting, adding, and taking away toys, books, anything they had at the table! Unfortunately, once, that included green beans that got "subtracted" to the floor. But the 2 yr old said: bye bye 4 beans! I eat 3 now.

navyma23 navyma23

Yes it is.

PonyC... PonyChaser

One day, your child is going to want to pick up an instrument and learn to play it. Will you scoff when his band director says, "he needs to practice 30 minutes a day"? Will you tell him that it's stupid and "aimless"? No, you will likely agree and sit Little Johnny down for the required 30 minutes a day because you understand that he is learning a new skill and it takes practice.

Why then, should it be different with homework? You think that knowing his addition/subtraction/multiplication tables is just going to happen without practice? That today he doesn't know how to add, but tomorrow 7+9 is going to be easy because his teacher happened to write it on the board??

Ridiculous. Learning is a skill, reading, math, writing - all of those are skills that require practice, just like throwing a baseball or playing a musical instrument.

A little homework never hurt anybody. I do agree, though, that hours of homework, particularly in grade school, is out of line, and should require a meeting with the teachers/principal.

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