When kids get home from school the last thing they want to do is start working on homework. They want to get outside, play with friends or have a snack and relax.
It’s normal for kids to complain about having to do homework, but could your child be overloaded with afterschool work?
A new study says yes.
The study from the Stanford School of Education, published in the Journal of Experimental Education, claims that children in high-performing schools in upper to middle class families suffer from high levels of stress. And these groups are at greater risk for health problems, including a lack of balance in their lives and can even feel alienated from society.
Children in these high-achieving schools often spend an average of more than three hours each night doing homework. Denise Pope, senior lecturer at Stanford and co-author of the study, and her team of researchers studied 4,317 students in 10 of these schools in California.
Researchers did find that students spending a lot of their time on homework had a better level of engagement in school. However, these students were adversely affected by high stress and physical health problems.
“Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good,” Pope said in a statement.
Too much homework was found to be counterproductive. In a poll, 56 percent of students attributed any stress in their lives to too much homework. Less than 1 percent of students said that homework was not a stressor.
When asked how homework affects them, students reported lack of sleep, headaches, exhaustion and stomach problems. Students reported that due to the necessity of keeping their grades up, homework often came first before spending time with friends, attending after school activities or cultivating hobbies or talents outside of academic work.
Dr. Aaron Traeger, pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group in Normal, Ill., says that with schoolwork kids have to do what they are told.
“Teachers typically do not work together to make certain days more ‘fair’ or an even workload,” he says.
Dr. Traeger says if your kids are being overwhelmed with homework, the following are some things to consider:
- Are outside school activities or sports taking up too much time? With too much going on outside of school it can put more stress on the things that ‘have to’ be done.
- Is the student procrastinating too much? Usually larger projects have plenty of warning before being due.
- Talk with the teacher and see why there is so much homework. Is it because the work is not being completed during the class time?
- How are the study and working habits of the student? Working on study skills or working efficiency can make a big difference when the work load gets larger.
- Medical reasons – Attention Deficit Disorder, depression, anxiety are all possibilities when a child starts to struggle. Especially if there is a very sudden deterioration of school performance. Speak with your school psychologist and pediatrician.
New figures released by ChildLine have shown a concerning rise in the number of young people seeking help for stress in the run up to the exam period.
The free 24-hour counselling service said it carried out 3,077 counselling sessions about exam stress to young people last year, a rise of nine per cent on 2014/15.
There was also a rise of 20 per cent of concerns about exam results, with 1,127 counselling sessions compared to 2014/15.
ChildLine, which is provided by the NSPCC, said the major themes being reported were not wanting to disappoint parents, fear of failure, and general pressures linked to academic achievement.
The service emphasised how worries about exams can affect young people’s ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression and tearfulness, and eating disorders. In some cases, the counsellor said it also leads to self-harm and suicidal feelings.
One teenage male called the service and described how he “can’t cope if things get any worse than this.” He told the team: “I can’t focus on my work and I have tests coming up I haven’t prepared for.
“Everything is just piling on top of me. I know I just need to make a start, but I get too anxious to think straight, it just feels hopeless.”
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, acknowledged how the exam period can be “a very stressful and anxious time” for young people. He said: “As these figures reveal, the pressure to do well is being felt by an increasing number of young people across the country.
“We hear from lots of young people each year who are anxious, worried, or panicking about their exams and revision. We want to let them know they are not alone, and that ChildLine is here to listen to them.”
Mr Wanless’ comments have come as ChildLine launches a new video featuring advice and tips aimed at helping children and young people cope with exams.
The service has also advised young people take regular breaks from revising and do exercise, get plenty of sleep, try to think positively, and make sure they’re keeping hydrated.
The figures have come shortly after a study by the National Citizen Service (NCS) revealed the extent to which revision-related stress is affecting British teenagers.
The NCS polled 1,000 young students - aged 15 to 18 - to find almost 80 per cent were seeing changes in their behaviour, physical and mental health, or appearance in the run up to the exam period.
Natasha Kizzie, head of marketing at NCS Trust, highlighted the importance of students to have positive goals, and said: “We’d encourage parents to help ensure young people have something to look forward to when the exam period is all over.”
More information is available about beating exam stress and revision. Children and young people can also call ChildLine’s free confidential helpline on 0800 1111, or get support from a counsellor online through 1-2-1 chatReuse content
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