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Study: Too Much Homework Can Make Children Sick

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File photo of teenage boys doing their homework.  (credit:  Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

File photo of teenage boys doing their homework. (credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

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STANFORD, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) – According to a recent study, children doing more than three hours of homework per night is making them sick.

“The three hours of homework a night was an average, by the way,” Denise Pope, senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and co-author of the study, told CNN. “We have kids in the study who were doing way more.”

Researchers analyzed data from over 4,300 students from 10 high-performing public and private high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. The researchers set out to determine the relationship between the amount of homework and the well-being of students. They also wanted to understand how homework can stress out a student.

They were able to determine that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems, and lack of balance in children’s lives.

“We found a clear connection between the students’ stress and physical impacts – migraines, ulcers and other stomach problems, sleep deprivation and exhaustion, and weight loss,” Pope said.

According to the Brookings Institute’s 2014 Brown Center Report on American Education, homework hasn’t changed much since 1984.

Pope found that in upper-middle-class neighborhoods, homework kept coming up as a tension point. Some parents wanted less but some parents wanted more.

“We realized that we need intervention around homework,” Pope said.

The researchers used students’ self-reporting on homework because they felt it was important to explore the students firsthand experiences with homework.

The most important factor in childhood stress is family support.

“Parents’ first responsibility is to the health of their child,” Pope said. “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!’”

Pope feels that high school students should not have more than 90 minutes of homework a night. She also said there is not a correlation between homework and academic achievement in elementary school.

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Education.

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