Majority of parents find homework stressful: survey

Homework's stress reaches beyond students, according to a national survey released Monday, leading one Edmonton teacher to ban homework for her students.

Edmonton teacher doesn't assign any homework to students to minimize anxiety

Homework's stress reaches beyond students, according to a national survey released Monday.

Even though the majority of Canadians agree homework is a vital learning tool, more than two-thirds of parents say the assignments are often a source of household stress.

Among Canadian parents with children aged five to 24, 72 per cent reported homework causing stress, said the second annual survey on attitudes toward learning commissioned by the Canadian Council on Learning.

"She just refuses to do it and I have to help her do it, otherwise when she goes back to school, more will be added on," said Edmonton parent Eleanor Chiang about doing homework with her daughter. "Part of the day is a negative experience and avoidable."

The constant source of anxiety among parents is one reason why teacher Jackie Pocklington doesn't hand out any homework to her Grade 5 and Grade 6 students at Edmonton's Garneau School.

"You're getting more negatives because of the family conflict and because of the stress it puts on kids and because of the stress it puts on families," she said.

"So when you weigh it, is the homework really helping or is it just frustrating everybody and do you really want the kid to come to school the next day after having that frustrating evening?"

Pocklington says her students continue to get good marks in tests, despite not taking any assignments home.

Students spend an average of 9.2 hours per week on homework, Statistics Canada found earlier this year.

Monday's study found parents who had negative past experiences with school themselves were more likely to see homework as stressful.

Parents born outside of Canada were less likely to consider homework as stressful than those born within the country.

"It is possible that previous experiences with the educational systems of their home countries, along with cultural expectations about achievement, discipline and commitment to school work reduce the homework-related stress experienced by immigrant parents," said the report.

The survey also found:

  • Thirty-three per cent of parents report hiring a private tutor for their kids, mostly to help with mathematics.
  • Almost one-quarter of Canadian parents enrolled their children in language-immersion programs to help them with future job opportunities.
  • More than 80 per cent see bullying as one of the most serious issues facing students.
  • Forty-seven per cent report their children have been bullied.

Results were based on telephone interviews with 5,361 Canadians between May and June 2007.