According to some accounts, kids in the United States are spending up to 17.5 hours a week on homework alone. That number doesn’t include the hours they spend in school, clubs, or participating in school performances, sports, or other activities—that’s up to 17.5 pure homework hours alone. If that seems a little absurd to you, it’s for a reason. A teenager could work a part-time job in that amount of spare hours a week and … hey, wait—what about the teenagers who have to work a part-time job? How are they supposed to balance it all? Even for kids and teens who aren’t also holding down a job, up to 17.5 hours a week of homework is a big deal. Hours like that leave little time for after-school fun, family dinners or weekend outings.
Plenty of sources have cited lower amounts of weekly time spent on homework, but all things considered, many parents feel as though their children have been overworked and have been vocal about reducing homework. (Check out Joanna Nesbit’s story “Why I’ve Stopped Nagging My Son About Homework.”) Search for any term related to “reducing homework” and you’ll find countless sites and forums committed to the cause. Some schools have been reducing homework, which has largely been met with praise from parents.
This study from Stanford found that students who spend too much time on schoolwork outside of school have higher levels of stress and problems with their physical health, among other issues. In this piece on Scholastic, instructor Alfie Kohn draws a line between a teacher deciding that a lesson from the day needs to be continued at home with reading or work, and a teacher deciding before the school year even begins that students will be receiving some kind of work to do at home every night of the week, no matter what was learned in class that day.
That’s an important distinction to make. Homework for the sake of learning is exactly what we want. It’s exactly why we send our kids to school—to learn. Homework for the sake of homework, though? That’s a whole different beast, one that smells like all of the bureaucratic red tape so many grown-ups suffer through and despise. We shouldn’t ban homework, but we shouldn’t give kids so much of it that they have little time for anything else, either. And really, the least we can do no matter what is honor the sanctity in No Homework Day this Wednesday.