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I’m So Stressed Out! Fact Sheet
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Feeling overwhelmed? Read this fact sheet to learn whether it’s stress or anxiety, and what you can do to cope.
Is it stress or anxiety?
Life can be stressful—you may feel stressed about performance at school, traumatic events (such as a pandemic, a natural disaster, or an act of violence), or a life change. Everyone feels stress from time to time.
What is stress? Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as having a lot of homework or having an illness. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time.
What is anxiety? Anxiety is your body's reaction to stress and can occur even if there is no current threat.
If that anxiety doesn’t go away and begins to interfere with your life, it could affect your health. You could experience problems with sleeping, or with your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. You also may be at higher risk for developing a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression. Read more about anxiety disorders .
So, how do you know when to seek help?
Stress vs. Anxiety
It’s important to manage your stress..
Everyone experiences stress, and sometimes that stress can feel overwhelming. You may be at risk for an anxiety disorder if it feels like you can’t manage the stress and if the symptoms of your stress:
- Interfere with your everyday life.
- Cause you to avoid doing things.
- Seem to be always present.
Coping With Stress and Anxiety
Learning what causes or triggers your stress and what coping techniques work for you can help reduce your anxiety and improve your daily life. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. Here are some activities you can try when you start to feel overwhelmed:
- Keep a journal.
- Download an app that provides relaxation exercises (such as deep breathing or visualization) or tips for practicing mindfulness, which is a psychological process of actively paying attention to the present moment.
- Exercise, and make sure you are eating healthy, regular meals.
- Stick to a sleep routine, and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
- Avoid drinking excess caffeine such as soft drinks or coffee.
- Identify and challenge your negative and unhelpful thoughts.
- Reach out to your friends or family members who help you cope in a positive way.
Recognize When You Need More Help
If you are struggling to cope, or the symptoms of your stress or anxiety won’t go away, it may be time to talk to a professional. Psychotherapy (also called talk therapy) and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety, and many people benefit from a combination of the two.
If you are in immediate distress or are thinking about hurting yourself, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or chat at 988lifeline.org .
If you or someone you know has a mental illness, is struggling emotionally, or has concerns about their mental health, there are ways to get help. Read more about getting help .
- NIMH: Anxiety Disorders
- NIMH: Caring for Your Mental Health
- NIMH: Child and Adolescent Mental Health
- NIMH: Tips for Talking With a Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Anxiety and Depression in Children
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health NIH Publication No. 20-MH-8125
11 Surprising Homework Statistics, Facts & Data
The age-old question of whether homework is good or bad for students is unanswerable because there are so many “ it depends ” factors.
For example, it depends on the age of the child, the type of homework being assigned, and even the child’s needs.
There are also many conflicting reports on whether homework is good or bad. This is a topic that largely relies on data interpretation for the researcher to come to their conclusions.
To cut through some of the fog, below I’ve outlined some great homework statistics that can help us understand the effects of homework on children.
Homework Statistics List
1. 45% of parents think homework is too easy for their children.
A study by the Center for American Progress found that parents are almost twice as likely to believe their children’s homework is too easy than to disagree with that statement.
Here are the figures for math homework:
- 46% of parents think their child’s math homework is too easy.
- 25% of parents think their child’s math homework is not too easy.
- 29% of parents offered no opinion.
Here are the figures for language arts homework:
- 44% of parents think their child’s language arts homework is too easy.
- 28% of parents think their child’s language arts homework is not too easy.
- 28% of parents offered no opinion.
These findings are based on online surveys of 372 parents of school-aged children conducted in 2018.
2. 93% of Fourth Grade Children Worldwide are Assigned Homework
The prestigious worldwide math assessment Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) took a survey of worldwide homework trends in 2007. Their study concluded that 93% of fourth-grade children are regularly assigned homework, while just 7% never or rarely have homework assigned.
3. 17% of Teens Regularly Miss Homework due to Lack of High-Speed Internet Access
A 2018 Pew Research poll of 743 US teens found that 17%, or almost 2 in every 5 students, regularly struggled to complete homework because they didn’t have reliable access to the internet.
This figure rose to 25% of Black American teens and 24% of teens whose families have an income of less than $30,000 per year.
4. Parents Spend 6.7 Hours Per Week on their Children’s Homework
A 2018 study of 27,500 parents around the world found that the average amount of time parents spend on homework with their child is 6.7 hours per week. Furthermore, 25% of parents spend more than 7 hours per week on their child’s homework.
American parents spend slightly below average at 6.2 hours per week, while Indian parents spend 12 hours per week and Japanese parents spend 2.6 hours per week.
5. Students in High-Performing High Schools Spend on Average 3.1 Hours per night Doing Homework
A study by Galloway, Conner & Pope (2013) conducted a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California.
Across these high-performing schools, students self-reported that they did 3.1 hours per night of homework.
Graduates from those schools also ended up going on to college 93% of the time.
6. One to Two Hours is the Optimal Duration for Homework
A 2012 peer-reviewed study in the High School Journal found that students who conducted between one and two hours achieved higher results in tests than any other group.
However, the authors were quick to highlight that this “t is an oversimplification of a much more complex problem.” I’m inclined to agree. The greater variable is likely the quality of the homework than time spent on it.
Nevertheless, one result was unequivocal: that some homework is better than none at all : “students who complete any amount of homework earn higher test scores than their peers who do not complete homework.”
7. 74% of Teens cite Homework as a Source of Stress
A study by the Better Sleep Council found that homework is a source of stress for 74% of students. Only school grades, at 75%, rated higher in the study.
That figure rises for girls, with 80% of girls citing homework as a source of stress.
Similarly, the study by Galloway, Conner & Pope (2013) found that 56% of students cite homework as a “primary stressor” in their lives.
8. US Teens Spend more than 15 Hours per Week on Homework
The same study by the Better Sleep Council also found that US teens spend over 2 hours per school night on homework, and overall this added up to over 15 hours per week.
Surprisingly, 4% of US teens say they do more than 6 hours of homework per night. That’s almost as much homework as there are hours in the school day.
The only activity that teens self-reported as doing more than homework was engaging in electronics, which included using phones, playing video games, and watching TV.
9. The 10-Minute Rule
The National Education Association (USA) endorses the concept of doing 10 minutes of homework per night per grade.
For example, if you are in 3rd grade, you should do 30 minutes of homework per night. If you are in 4th grade, you should do 40 minutes of homework per night.
However, this ‘rule’ appears not to be based in sound research. Nevertheless, it is true that homework benefits (no matter the quality of the homework) will likely wane after 2 hours (120 minutes) per night, which would be the NEA guidelines’ peak in grade 12.
10. 21.9% of Parents are Too Busy for their Children’s Homework
An online poll of nearly 300 parents found that 21.9% are too busy to review their children’s homework. On top of this, 31.6% of parents do not look at their children’s homework because their children do not want their help. For these parents, their children’s unwillingness to accept their support is a key source of frustration.
11. 46.5% of Parents find Homework too Hard
The same online poll of parents of children from grades 1 to 12 also found that many parents struggle to help their children with homework because parents find it confusing themselves. Unfortunately, the study did not ask the age of the students so more data is required here to get a full picture of the issue.
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Interpreting the Data
Unfortunately, homework is one of those topics that can be interpreted by different people pursuing differing agendas. All studies of homework have a wide range of variables, such as:
- What age were the children in the study?
- What was the homework they were assigned?
- What tools were available to them?
- What were the cultural attitudes to homework and how did they impact the study?
- Is the study replicable?
The more questions we ask about the data, the more we realize that it’s hard to come to firm conclusions about the pros and cons of homework .
Furthermore, questions about the opportunity cost of homework remain. Even if homework is good for children’s test scores, is it worthwhile if the children consequently do less exercise or experience more stress?
Thus, this ends up becoming a largely qualitative exercise. If parents and teachers zoom in on an individual child’s needs, they’ll be able to more effectively understand how much homework a child needs as well as the type of homework they should be assigned.
Related: Funny Homework Excuses
The debate over whether to assign children homework will not be resolved with these homework statistics. But, these facts and figures can help you to pursue a position in a school debate on the topic – and with that, I hope your debate goes well and you develop some great debating skills!
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.
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Should Kids Get Homework?
Homework gives elementary students a way to practice concepts, but too much can be harmful, experts say.
Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful. (Getty Images)
How much homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. In recent years, some districts have even implemented no-homework policies, as students juggle sports, music and other activities after school.
Parents of elementary school students, in particular, have argued that after-school hours should be spent with family or playing outside rather than completing assignments. And there is little research to show that homework improves academic achievement for elementary students.
But some experts say there's value in homework, even for younger students. When done well, it can help students practice core concepts and develop study habits and time management skills. The key to effective homework, they say, is keeping assignments related to classroom learning, and tailoring the amount by age: Many experts suggest no homework for kindergartners, and little to none in first and second grade.
Value of Homework
Homework provides a chance to solidify what is being taught in the classroom that day, week or unit. Practice matters, says Janine Bempechat, clinical professor at Boston University 's Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.
"There really is no other domain of human ability where anybody would say you don't need to practice," she adds. "We have children practicing piano and we have children going to sports practice several days a week after school. You name the domain of ability and practice is in there."
Homework is also the place where schools and families most frequently intersect.
"The children are bringing things from the school into the home," says Paula S. Fass, professor emerita of history at the University of California—Berkeley and the author of "The End of American Childhood." "Before the pandemic, (homework) was the only real sense that parents had to what was going on in schools."
Harris Cooper, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework," examined more than 60 research studies on homework between 1987 and 2003 and found that — when designed properly — homework can lead to greater student success. Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary.
"Every child should be doing homework, but the amount and type that they're doing should be appropriate for their developmental level," he says. "For teachers, it's a balancing act. Doing away with homework completely is not in the best interest of children and families. But overburdening families with homework is also not in the child's or a family's best interest."
Negative Homework Assignments
Not all homework for elementary students involves completing a worksheet. Assignments can be fun, says Cooper, like having students visit educational locations, keep statistics on their favorite sports teams, read for pleasure or even help their parents grocery shop. The point is to show students that activities done outside of school can relate to subjects learned in the classroom.
But assignments that are just busy work, that force students to learn new concepts at home, or that are overly time-consuming can be counterproductive, experts say.
Homework that's just busy work.
Effective homework reinforces math, reading, writing or spelling skills, but in a way that's meaningful, experts say. Assignments that look more like busy work – projects or worksheets that don't require teacher feedback and aren't related to topics learned in the classroom – can be frustrating for students and create burdens for families.
"The mental health piece has definitely played a role here over the last couple of years during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the last thing we want to do is frustrate students with busy work or homework that makes no sense," says Dave Steckler, principal of Red Trail Elementary School in Mandan, North Dakota.
Homework on material that kids haven't learned yet.
With the pressure to cover all topics on standardized tests and limited time during the school day, some teachers assign homework that has not yet been taught in the classroom.
Not only does this create stress, but it also causes equity challenges. Some parents speak languages other than English or work several jobs, and they aren't able to help teach their children new concepts.
" It just becomes agony for both parents and the kids to get through this worksheet, and the goal becomes getting to the bottom of (the) worksheet with answers filled in without any understanding of what any of it matters for," says professor Susan R. Goldman, co-director of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois—Chicago .
Homework that's overly time-consuming.
The standard homework guideline recommended by the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association is the "10-minute rule" – 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level. A fourth grader, for instance, would receive a total of 40 minutes of homework per night.
But this does not always happen, especially since not every student learns the same. A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy found that primary school children actually received three times the recommended amount of homework — and that family stress increased along with the homework load.
Young children can only remain attentive for short periods, so large amounts of homework, especially lengthy projects, can negatively affect students' views on school. Some individual long-term projects – like having to build a replica city, for example – typically become an assignment for parents rather than students, Fass says.
"It's one thing to assign a project like that in which several kids are working on it together," she adds. "In (that) case, the kids do normally work on it. It's another to send it home to the families, where it becomes a burden and doesn't really accomplish very much."
Private vs. Public Schools
Do private schools assign more homework than public schools? There's little research on the issue, but experts say private school parents may be more accepting of homework, seeing it as a sign of academic rigor.
Of course, not all private schools are the same – some focus on college preparation and traditional academics, while others stress alternative approaches to education.
"I think in the academically oriented private schools, there's more support for homework from parents," says Gerald K. LeTendre, chair of educational administration at Pennsylvania State University—University Park . "I don't know if there's any research to show there's more homework, but it's less of a contentious issue."
How to Address Homework Overload
First, assess if the workload takes as long as it appears. Sometimes children may start working on a homework assignment, wander away and come back later, Cooper says.
"Parents don't see it, but they know that their child has started doing their homework four hours ago and still not done it," he adds. "They don't see that there are those four hours where their child was doing lots of other things. So the homework assignment itself actually is not four hours long. It's the way the child is approaching it."
But if homework is becoming stressful or workload is excessive, experts suggest parents first approach the teacher, followed by a school administrator.
"Many times, we can solve a lot of issues by having conversations," Steckler says, including by "sitting down, talking about the amount of homework, and what's appropriate and not appropriate."
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Teens, Sleep and Homework Survey Results
Better sleep council research finds that too much homework can actually hurt teens' performance in school.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. , Dec. 11, 2018 – According to new research from the Better Sleep Council (BSC) – the nonprofit consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association – homework, rather than social pressure, is the number one cause of teenage stress, negatively affecting their sleep and ultimately impacting their academic performance.
American teenagers said they spend 15+ hours a week on homework, and about one-third (34%) of all teens spend 20 or more hours a week. This is more than time spent at work, school clubs, social activities and sports. When asked what causes stress in their lives, about three-quarters of teens said grades/test scores (75%) and/or homework (74%) cause stress, more than self-esteem (51%), parental expectations (45%) and even bullying (15%). In fact, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America™ Survey, during the school year, teenagers say they experience stress levels higher than those reported by adults.
Further, more than half (57%) of all teenagers surveyed do not feel they get enough sleep. Seventy-nine percent reported getting 7 hours of sleep or less on a typical school night, more than two-thirds (67%) say they only get 5 to 7 hours of sleep on a school night, and only about one in five teens is getting 8 hours of sleep or more. Based on the BSC’s findings, the more stressed teenagers feel, the more likely they are to get less sleep, go to bed later and wake up earlier. They are also more likely to have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep – more often than their less-stressed peers.
“We’re finding that teenagers are experiencing this cycle where they sacrifice their sleep to spend extra time on homework, which gives them more stress – but they don’t get better grades,” said Mary Helen Rogers , vice president of marketing and communications for the Better Sleep Council. “The BSC understands the impact sleep has on teenagers’ overall development, so we can help them reduce this stress through improved sleep habits.”
The BSC recommends that teens between the ages of 13-18 get 8-10 hours of sleep per night. For teens to get the sleep their bodies need for optimal school performance, they should consider the following tips:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine . Just like they set time aside for homework, they should schedule at least 8 hours of sleep into their daily calendars. It may be challenging in the beginning, but it will help in the long run.
- Keep it quiet in the bedroom. It’s easier to sleep when there isn’t extra noise. Teens may even want to wear earplugs if their home is too noisy.
- Create a relaxing sleep environment. Make sure the bedroom is clutter-free, dark and conducive to great sleep. A cool bedroom, between 65 and 67 degrees , is ideal to help teens sleep.
- Cut back on screen time. Try cutting off screen time at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from electronics’ screens disturbs sleep.
- Examine their mattress. Since a mattress is an important component of a good night’s sleep, consider replacing it if it isn’t providing comfort and support, or hasn’t been changed in at least seven years.
Other takeaways on the relationship between homework, stress and sleep in teenagers include:
- Teens who feel more stress (89%) are more likely than less-stressed teens (65%) to say homework causes them stress in their lives.
- More than three-quarters (76%) of teens who feel more stress say they don’t feel they get enough sleep – which is significantly higher than teens who are not stressed, since only 42% of them feel they don’t get enough sleep.
- Teens who feel more stress (51%) are more likely than less-stressed teens (35%) to get to bed at 11 p.m. or later. Among these teens who are going to bed later, about 33% of them said they are waking up at 6:00 a.m. or earlier.
- Students who go to bed earlier and awaken earlier perform better academically than those who stay up late – even to do homework.
About the BSC The Better Sleep Council is the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, the trade association for the mattress industry. With decades invested in improving sleep quality, the BSC educates consumers on the link between sleep and health, and the role of the sleep environment, primarily through www.bettersleep.org , partner support and consumer outreach.
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About The Better Sleep Council
The Better Sleep Council (BSC) provides research, insights and educational resources to empower consumers to make smarter sleep decisions. Sponsored by the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA), and supported by experts from industry and academia, the BSC offers unbiased perspectives on sleep health and sleep products, so you can sleep soundly.
© 2021 Better Sleep Council. All rights reserved.
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• Greater stress: 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.
Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as having a lot of homework or having an illness. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time. What is anxiety? Anxiety is your body's reaction to stress and can occur even if there is no current threat.
7. 74% of Teens cite Homework as a Source of Stress A study by the Better Sleep Council found that homework is a source of stress for 74% of students. Only school grades, at 75%, rated higher in the study. That figure rises for girls, with 80% of girls citing homework as a source of stress.
When it came to stress, more than 70 percent of students said they were “often or always stressed over schoolwork,” with 56 percent listing homework as a primary stressor. Less than 1 percent...
Too much, however, is harmful. And homework has a greater positive effect on students in secondary school (grades 7-12) than those in elementary. "Every child should be doing homework, but the ...
This is more than time spent at work, school clubs, social activities and sports. When asked what causes stress in their lives, about three-quarters of teens said grades/test scores (75%) and/or homework (74%) cause stress, more than self-esteem (51%), parental expectations (45%) and even bullying (15%).
Homework placed fourth at 13%. 36.5% of U.S. college students pointed to stress as the biggest reason why their academic performance suffered negatively for the past 12 months. In addition, 29.5 % listed anxiety as a factor. For American middle schoolers, 61% of teens admitted feeling a lot of pressure to get good grades.
According to a new study, conducted by the Better Sleep Council, that homework stress is the biggest source of frustration for teens, with 74 percent of those surveyed ranking it the highest,...