Is Homework Beneficial?
Homework. It is a hotly debated topic amongst the parent and teacher community. In our busy day to day lives, homework is often an afterthought and sometimes even gets deleted from the organised chaos of the afternoon routine. The question is, is homework a tradition that is outdated and irrelevant or should we see it as an integral part of our child’s learning? This article will explore the ins and outs of “Is Homework Beneficial?” And discuss questions such as:
Traditionally, homework was put in place as a way of having students continue to practice the ‘basics’ outside of school hours. Foundational skills such as reading, times tables and spelling, basically anything that could be learned by rote (repetition) were issued as homework.
Having spent many years teaching the early years, I cannot stress enough the importance of students building a solid foundation in skills such as reading, sight words the concept of adding and subtracting and the all-important times tables.
Are there benefits to homework?
Well….. Yes! If your child’s homework is targeted at their ability level (or what we in the teaching profession call differentiation), it can absolutely be beneficial. For the first few years of school, an extra few minutes a day being exposed to the foundational skills (reading, writing, times tables, sight words, addition/subtraction) can do wonders, particularly if your child is finding it challenging retaining some of this knowledge in class.
As your child moves through their primary school years and into secondary school, homework needs to evolve along with the complex learning needs and styles of each student and the demands of the curriculum.
An often overlooked benefit of homework is that it teaches students independent time management. This is increasingly important as they move into secondary school as they will be juggling many different assignments from a range of subjects. Forming positive study habits early on will make for smoother sailing throughout their formal schooling and beyond within tertiary studies and careers.
Are there disadvantages?
If your child has mastered the foundational skills and is still being asked to practice them at home, you have the right to question your child’s teacher as to why they are asking your child to waste brain power on something they already know (maybe don’t ask it exactly like that). In fact, the best way to benefit your child’s learning is to work hand in hand with their teacher. Click here to discover productive ways to talk with your child’s teacher about their learning and have meaningful and productive parent-teacher conversations.
As your child enters upper primary (Years 3-6), it is important that the focus shifts from rote (repetitive) learning into research-based homework. This may include individual and group projects, assignments, real-world maths problems (more than just sums) and reading that challenges thinking.
How much should I get involved?
Homework should not require you, as the parent, to know how to complete it. Well thought-out homework can be completed independently by the student. In saying this, it is important that you are part of your child’s homework routine.
- Ask what they are doing and show genuine interest in their learning
- Find out how it is relating to their classwork and what they should be learning according to the curriculum
- Monitor if they seem bored or being challenged in their thinking.
- It is also a good idea to keep an eye on how long they are spending doing their homework. To read more about how much homework is too much, click here.
Particularly with the introduction of school-issued, student devices, it is becoming increasingly difficult for students to stay on task while doing their homework on a device. It is important to keep a close eye on what your child is or should be doing and remember it is a joint responsibility between the student, parents and the school to monitor device usage. Read more about ensuring school devices are maximised for safe learning here.
Will the world end if your child skips their homework every now and then… No! Obviously, we don’t want it to become a habit, however, if there is something more important to do, or they are just done for the day, then let them have a break.
If a student fails to complete an assignment and doesn’t get the grade they could have, that’s on them. If they don’t complete their part of the group assignment, they will have to explain that to their peers. With loving guidance, they will learn and grow from their mistakes. If they decided to go for a bike ride with their friend or stayed back after soccer training to practice a little longer, then so be it. We should not punish students for wanting to live a balanced life. Dinner with Grandma brings a richness to a child’s life that times tables cannot. Better still, kill two birds with one stone and have Granny quiz them on their timetables.