Student stress: How homework really affects education


Sydney Wargo, Reporter

For centuries, children have been going to school in order to receive an education and learn valuable, basic skills. In the United States, the average student starts going to school when they are 5 years old, and continues on until they are 18. Beyond that, many people seek higher education through colleges, universities, and graduate schools.

Along with school comes homework.The amount of homework a student receives depends on the class, the teacher, and the school.

Many New York City public high schools given 2 to 4 hours of homework a night. These students tend to feel more pressured and anxious about school. However, the iSchool gives much less homework compared to other schools. As a result, the students are much less stressed.

Homework is a main source of stress for students, and it does not improve students’ grades. Schools that give less homework, such as the iSchool, have overall better performing, more mentally stable, less stressed students.

“Too much homework can do more harm than good. Researchers have cited drawbacks, including boredom and burnout toward academic material, less time for family and extracurricular activities, lack of sleep and increased stress,” an article from the American Psychological Association says.

According to a survey sent out to the iSchool community, the majority of 30 respondents reported that they spent 2-4 hours on homework every night. When asked if homework was a major source of stress, 96% of respondents said yes.

Stanford University conducted a study concerning the relationship between homework and stress. Over 4,000 students were asked questions related to how homework affects their stress levels. The results showed that “56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress… Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor… Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.”

Dela Sluymer, a freshman at Brooklyn Millennium High School, said that she usually has 2 hours of homework per night.

“I’m usually working on essays and projects that I’m not given time to complete in class, and also other worksheets and more small work like that,” Dela says. She admits homework is often stressful for her, and it takes up a lot of her time outside of school.

Typically, students are in school 5 days a week for 6-8 hours a day, not including extracurricular activities. This gives most kids a fairly small amount of time to participate in activities outside of school, such as spending time with friends and family, taking part in hobbies, and more. Unfortunately, homework takes up a lot of this time, further limiting students from their freedom.

At the iSchool, with less homework, students are able to participate in clubs and other extracurricular activities, as well as spend valuable time with loved ones.

Slava Hasuler-Lew, a freshman at the iSchool, explains how less homework has improved her school life. “At this school, I almost never have over an hour of homework a night. Whenever I talk to my friends, they always say they have several hours of homework, and how they’re so stressed out about [it].”

“Having a light homework load has gotten rid of a lot of the negative feelings I used to have surrounding school,” Slava explains. “The less stressed out I am, the better I do in my classes, and homework used to be my main source of stress in middle school.”

Washington Post analyzed a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education. This study surveyed several thousand students on the negative impact of too much homework. The survey revealed that “Many (63%) reported that the amount of work they received oft or always made it challenging to spend time with family and friends, and a similar percent (61%) indicated that they had been forced to drop an activity they enjoyed because of their school workload.”

Noah Mcguane is a freshman at Edward R. Murrow High School. Noah describes his homework load and its affect on him.

“I get a lot of homework on a daily basis. I usually have assigned reading, DeltaMath, worksheets, essays, pretty much any type of assignment you could imagine. I’d say I usually have 2 hours of homework a night, but it varies.”

“Homework can be really stressful and time consuming for me,” Noah says. “It is really important to me that I get good grades and do well, but that mindset sometimes makes me feel even more pressured, making the stress even worse.”

Stress includes a large number of negative side effects that can greatly impact a person’s daily life. Insomnia, exhaustion, acne, headaches, nausea, vulnerability to sickness, mood swings, and short-temperedness are only some of the effects stress can have on people. Extreme stress can have even worse consequences, such as hair loss, depression, and anxiety.

The previously mentioned study conducted by Stanford University shows that many students suffer from similar symptoms when given too much homework. Some students reported that in order to make time for their homework, they deprive themselves of sleep; sleep deprivation on its own comes with many negative side effects.

Having such high stress will inevitably lead to lower performance in school. Stressed students often have trouble focusing in class, making school work harder for them. It is a common misconception that homework leads to better grades; the result is actually the opposite.

When adding up stress, sleep deprivation, and lack of focus, it is impossible for the average adolescent to handle everything and still manage to perform to the best of their ability, leaving many students feeling hopeless.

Compared to the NYC iSchool, students here suffer from less of these problems. Laura Hickson, iSchool freshman, gives her insight on homework: “I have trouble sleeping as it is, and staying up doing homework really doesn’t help with that. Now that I go to the iSchool, I get better sleep, and I feel better when coming to school.”

Huffington Post further alludes this same point in an article discussing the impact large amounts of homework has on students test scores:

“Data shows that in countries where more time is spent on homework, students score lower on a standardized test called the Program for International Student Assessment… The same correlation is also seen when comparing homework time and test performance at schools within countries.”

Homework can be beneficial; it is important to practice in order to fully understand the topics students learn about in school. However, when the amount of homework assigned starts to become excessive, it can negatively impact how a student performs in school.

At the iSchool, the student body’s happiness is one of the main priorities. The lives students have outside of school are taken into consideration when assigning work outside of the classroom. Additionally, many students have Independent Work periods, where they can fully complete homework in school, leaving them stress free for the night.

Rather than making school a stressful environment, school should be a place where students can perform the best they possibly can and truly thrive, focus, and be educated. Education is a privilege, and we shouldn’t mistreat it.