News Tip: ‘Homework is Like Good Medicine’ and Other Research-Based Back-to-School Advice

The following Duke University experts share back-to-school advice for parents on homework, bullying and early identification of learning difficulties. 

            Harris Cooper on Homework

  • Quotes:
    “Homework is the most complex teaching strategy used in schools. Parents of older children worry that homework is causing their kids too much stress. Parents of younger children worry that it is ineffective and leaves little time for play,” says Harris Cooper, a Duke University professor of psychology and neuroscience and an expert on homework.

    “Research shows that all children, even young children, learn better when they bring home school assignments. The key to success is that the assignments be appropriate to the student’s developmental level and home circumstances. For young children, homework should be short, simple, and lead to success. Older students can have more challenging assignments that involve both practice and the integration of skills.”

    “Parents should not expect large achievement gains from homework in the early grades. But, homework teaches other important skills such as good study habits, time management and a recognition that academic learning can occur anywhere, not just at school. Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits.”

    “Homework can also give parents an opportunity to see what’s going on at school and learn about their child’s academic strengths and weaknesses.”

    “Opponents argue homework can lead to boredom with schoolwork and can deny students access to leisure activities that are fun and also teach important life skills.”

    “When homework is properly prescribed, though, it is like good medicine: Too little and it has no effect, too much and it can make matters worse, just the right amount and our kids get better.”

  • Bio:
    Harris Cooper has conducted a meta-analysis of studies on summer learning loss and is a noted expert on homework. He has published research syntheses in social, developmental and educational psychology, personality, education policy, marketing, and developmental medicine and child neurology.
  • Archive video interview (different subject):
    (4:25 mark)
  • For additional comment, contact Harris Cooper at:


      William Copeland on Bullying

  • Quotes:
    “In any given year about 1 in 5 children report being a victim of bullying—and these children are at an elevated risk for experiencing academic difficulties and emotional problems now and later in life,” says William Copeland, a professor at Duke University’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and an expert on bullying. “Parents can, however, make a difference by taking a few concrete steps: 

           -- ​​“First, ask your child about their day. What made you feel good or proud? Did anything make you feel sad? This includes asking y hem about how they are getting along with their friends.”

           -- “Second, note if there appears to be an unexpected change in their mood or social behavior. Are they feeling down, nervous, or even just reluctant to go to school all of a sudden? Sometimes this will express itself by a change in their appetite or sleep.”​

           -- “Third, check in with their teachers. Not all kids want to talk about what is going on with their peers, but teachers often can pick up on peer problems.”

          -- “Fourth, cyberbullying allows children to be bullied even when they are alone or at home. There are free apps that allow parents to check in on their children’s online activities without looking at their child’s device every day."

        Amy Schulting on Early Identification of Learning Difficulties

  • Quotes:
    “Parents should open up lines of communication with their child’s teacher from the very beginning, especially when it comes to sharing about their child’s medical history and learning and development,” says Amy Schulting, visiting research scholar at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

    “We know early identification and intervention is the best approach to address learning difficulties, like dyslexia, so having those conversations with teachers early in the school year helps ensure students get the appropriate support and intervention they need.”

  • Bio:
    Amy Schulting is a visiting research scholar at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy and the dyslexia specialist for the Minnesota Department of Education. Her research includes teacher home-visiting to improve students’ transition to kindergarten and truancy prevention efforts in the elementary grades.
  • For more comment, contact Schulting at: 

    A story version of this news tip is at