Ease homework overload to improve student mental health
March 29, 2022
I get home at 4 pm from school. I do my chores, eat dinner and start my homework, which lasts several hours. I finish my homework late and have to wake up early. I go through this stressful and exhausting experience, now a routine, every day due to the homework overload I receive from my classes.
The excessive homework amount has caused students across the globe to be condemned to grueling routines. Homework has been a mandatory occurrence in schools but in recent years, students feel the homework adding on and becoming something that negatively affects their mental health and increases anxiety. Homework can affect a child’s physical health as well as their mental health. I stay up late most nights working on homework instead of sleeping which influences how I act and learn in school.
Even though homework has always been part of students’ lives, it didn’t become a problem for me until this school year when Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) divided each semester into mesters, causing a doubling of the amount of homework since we had to finish the class sooner. Furthermore, as someone who is taking a college class along with honors classes and then extracurricular activities on top of that, it can be stressful to keep up with additional work in a limited time.
Now, as we begin the fourth mester, nothing seems to be changing. Class time is the same, which means that the homework overload will remain unchanged. Students will continue to have stressful nights, homework pressure and inadequate school/life balance.
Before, the work we received was for a class that lasted a semester. I would get home at 4 pm and I’d finish my homework around 8 pm. That resulted in me getting eight hours of sleep.
Currently, my homework takes me longer and I don’t finish until 11 pm. I still need to put my things away, take a shower, brush my teeth and get settled into bed. I often get six hours of sleep each night. This leaves me in an exhausted mood all day. As someone who wakes up at 5:30 am every day, I need this time to keep up with my sleep.
The homework overload damages students’ mental health. According to a study done by Stanford, “too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.” According to Stanford, 56% of students consider homework to be a primary stressor in their lives. The students stated that an overload of homework caused sleep deprivation and other health problems. Homework also consumed a majority of their time, resulting in them spending less time with friends and family and harming their mental health.
Not only does an overload of homework negatively affect a student’s mental health, but it also affects their physical health. If a student is sleep-deprived from staying up late to complete homework, then their body is weak and not energized for a day of learning at school. If schools want their students to do well then decreasing the amount of homework would help. When students are prepared to learn, both mentally and physically, then they can do their best versus not feeling well enough to last the day.
Another factor to consider is that most students have extracurricular activities they’re devoted to. Some students are in sports or in clubs or pursue their hobbies. “Half of U.S. secondary students participate in school sports and 40 percent are involved in arts or other clubs,” according to edweek.org. I am in Girl Scouts, so balancing the excessive amount of work while working on other things for my extracurricular constantly stresses me. This also leads to me taking extra time on my work which negatively affects my performance. The same can be said for other students. According to GatewayAukorak12.org, “..students are more likely to give up extracurricular activities, spend less time with friends and family and stop pursuing their hobbies”
Another opinion people may have is that it’s necessary to have homework so students get enough practice at home. I agree homework can help students do better with a certain topic but I think that schools should decrease the amount given. Students cannot retain information from the homework if their focus is to complete it, even if it means cheating and copying. For instance, students will cheat on exams and homework for many reasons, but more specifically to receive a higher grade. As claimed by Carnegie Mellon University, “many students are highly motivated by grades and might not see a relationship between learning and grades.”
What should be a fair amount of work for students? Students need homework and as they grow into higher school levels, they’ll receive more work. However, students shouldn’t be assigned an overload of homework that causes mental stress and anxiety. According to a Stanford study, a fair amount of homework depends on your grade but shouldn’t be extremely extensive, “…indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.”
Luckily, teachers in schools are offering office hours to help students with assignment questions. This is helpful because having extra support helps students not feel lost. Teachers can also help students with time management and help prioritize assignments during office hours.
The workload schools are giving is very stressful for students. Schools should think about what goals they are achieving by assigning an excessive amount of homework. They should also give a fair and comparable amount of work.