New research shows that some students are doing more than three hours of homework a night — and that all that school work may be literally making them sick.
It may be tempting to dismiss this latest research, conducted in upper-middle-class areas, as yet another manifestation of the eccentricities of the affluent. This is, after all, the same demographic that recently brought us eye-roll-inducing news stories about $250-an-hour tutors who drill preschoolers on their ABCs and 1-2-3s.
Could it be that a few short years later those same tots have graduated to marathon homework sessions?
“The three hours of homework a night was an average, by the way,” says Denise Pope, senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate
School of Education
The researchers sought to examine the relationship between homework load and student well-being and engagement, as well as to understand how homework can act as a stressor in students’ lives.
Their findings were troubling: Research showed that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems and lack of balance in children’s lives; 56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives.
And while some of the grousing about having too much homework and feeling stressed out may seem like typical adolescent complaints, this latest study joins a growing body of research that paints a disturbing tableau about the unrelenting pressure on privileged children.
That children growing up in poverty are at-risk for a number of ailments is both intuitive and well-supported by research. More difficult to believe is the growing consensus that children on the other end of the spectrum, children raised in affluence, may also be at risk.
“Parents’ first responsibility is to the health of their child,” Pope says. “Parents need to be advocates and cheerleaders, not graders and correctors. And you certainly don’t want to say to your kid, ‘Give me half of the homework!'”
Parents need to advocate for their children with the tools and numbers and research in hand. We’re talking about respectful dialogue.”