Homework Trials and Tribulations
Most days, Matthew arrives home from school at 4pm and relaxes for half an hour. He then gets out his homework book, reviews his assignments and begins his homework. Haley comes home ready to start her homework but can't remember what assignments she has to complete. Sometimes she does not have all of the materials she needs. Often her mom has had to take her back to school to get a book in order to complete the assignment. Nicholas can finish some assignments quickly but writing assignments take him a long time and he is often up late doing his homework.
As the above examples illustrate, some children seem to complete homework effortlessly, while others have difficulty managing the academic demands and organizational challenges that homework presents.
The purpose of homework is to review class material and practice skills. As children complete their assignments, they become more invested in and responsible for their learning. Homework places demands on children that help them develop mental skills. It demands that a child concentrates, follows directions, organizes materials, solves problems and works independently. Homework offers a way to show a growing sense of competence and independence. Additionally, homework helps forge a connection between school and home.
What do researchers tell us about homework?
Research has challenged the myth that America's students are overburdened with homework. According to recent national research children actually do not do enough homework. The Brookings Institute has found that on average, daily time spent on homework in the U.S. increased from 16 minutes in 1981 to slightly more than 19 minutes in 1997. However, the amount of homework assigned to children aged 6-9 has increased from about 44 minutes per week to more than two hours per week. Additionally, homework for kids aged 9-11 increased from about 2 hours and 50 minutes to more than 3 1⁄2 hours per week. A poll conducted in 2000 by the Public Agenda Foundation showed that most parents feel homework is about right. However, as both parents and children are busier than ever, it is no surprise that some parents perceive an increased homework load, in part because there are competing options for children including sports, music, part-time jobs, and family responsibilities. It is sometimes difficult to imagine where time for homework will fit in.
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
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