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.
What do master teachers tell us about homework?
Homework should be geared towards the work of the classroom and, where possible, to the interest of the child. It should be reflective of the child's ability and be developmentally appropriate. Teachers should try to make homework stimulating rather than a repetition of the day's in-class work. Giving choices for how homework is to be completed, sending home a list to parents of expectations and goals, and using a reward and tracking system for homework completion are helpful ways to ensure participation. It is important that teachers monitor homework progress and communicate with the family regularly.
Teachers can prepare children for homework because it is a teachable skill. Children need to know that there are good reasons for homework. Some teachers don't assign any homework in the first several weeks of school. Instead, they spend that time teaching children how to do homework. Along with discussions about how to manage time, they teach, model and practice how to do each of the possible choice activities. They provide all the necessary materials, which the children take home, and the class talks about and practices how to use and care for the materials.
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Problems With Standardized Testing