What science says about the benefits of homework

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What science says about the benefits of homework

One of the biggest controversies in terms of education is how much homework should children be doing every night? There are schools where kids in grade school, two hours a night, and junior high, three hours a night, and high school, four hours a night. Home has become a virtual battlefield. There is a tremendous body of research on the amount of homework that is optimal for cognitive development. Harris Cooper did what's called a Meta-analysis, which means he took all the studies on homework and combined them and came with the findings of all of these studies. They are pretty consistent. There is no value of homework for children in Elementary School, no cognitive value in it. He ended up recommending ten minutes per grade as okay. Maybe it teaches kids a bit about structure and how to get a pencil and sit down. He found no intellectual benefit. In Junior High School, your child should be doing an hour or so a night. After that, the benefit drops off, the child gets tired, and memory consolidation drops off. In High School, it's two to two and a half hours per night. Again, more than two hours a night your child is not learning optimally. Your child's learning is actually being interfered with. So this is a place where we have the science and yet, it's not being implemented in our schools. I think parents need to be very proactive in talking with their school about why they are not listening to what the research has so clearly shown.

View Madeline Levine, PhD's video on What science says about the benefits of homework...


Expert Bio

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Madeline Levine, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Madeline Levine, PhD, is a psychologist with close to 30 years of experience as a clinician, consultant and educator. Her New York Times bestseller, The Price of Privilege, explores the reasons why teenagers from affluent families are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems.  Her book, Teach Your Children Well, outlines how our current narrow definition of success unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. The development of skills needed to be successful in the 21st century- creativity, collaboration, innovation – are not easily developed in our competitive, fast-paced, high pressure world. Teach Your Children Well gives practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.

Dr. Levine is also a co-founder of Challenge Success, a project born at the Stanford School of Education. Challenge Success believes that our increasingly competitive world has led to tremendous anxiety about our children’s’ futures and has resulted in a high pressure, myopic focus on grades, test scores and performance. This kind of pressure and narrow focus isn’t helping our kids become the resilient, capable, meaningful contributors we need in the 21st century. So every day, Challenge Success provides families and schools with the practical research-based tools they need to raise healthy, motivated kids, capable of reaching their full potential. We know that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of the grading period.

Dr. Levine began her career as an elementary and junior high school teacher in the South Bronx of New York before moving to California and earning her degrees in psychology. She has had a large clinical practice with an emphasis on child and adolescent problems and parenting issues. Currently however, she spends most of her time crisscrossing the country speaking to parents, educators, students, and business leaders. Dr. Levine has taught Child Development classes to graduate students at the University of California Medical Center/ San Francisco. For many years, Dr. Levine has been a consultant to various schools, from preschool through High School, public as well as private, throughout the country. She has been featured on television programs from the Early Show to the Lehrer report, on NPR stations such as Diane Rheems in Washington and positively reviewed in publications from Scientific American to the Washington Post. She is sought out both nationally and internationally as an expert and keynote speaker. 

Dr. Levine and her husband of 35 years, Lee Schwartz, MD are the incredibly proud (and slightly relieved) parents of three newly minted and thriving sons.

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