Research suggests that the more parental support, the higher the standardized test scores and that support does not consist of doing the homework for the child, but letting the youth learn self-reliance. A youth who develops the habit of doing homework first and playing afterward is learning to make an important decision in terms of time management. Homework is not a punishment, but a means to an end. The youth who does not see that connection will use a variety of tactics to avoid it. This includes being too tired, sick, or “not understanding” the homework. It is can difficult for a parent to muster the pluck to insist that the work be completed versus reverting to a mothering position.
It is mindless to have a formula for the amount of homework by grade level. It simply depends on the curriculum being covered and the need for remediation. The rule of thumb should be that the homework assigned reflects the maturity of the student and their attention span.
Everything from reading and taking notes to creating castles to Internet research are all lumped into the homework category. That is why homework has drawn flies from all types of researchers and others who want to put an objective stamp on this fluid subject. Even brain research about the maturation of a child’s thinking process has been used to defend positions in the homework battle. The problem is that some research does not measure favorable results. For example, homework completion frequency has been shown to correlate with a student's grades achievement. It may also help forge a connection between school and home (O'Rourke-Ferrara, 1998).
Sadly, despite all the brouhaha about homework, I failed to find any research that homework has a negative effect upon a child’s success. Yes, some families rightly point out that it is hurting their family togetherness and that some youngsters don’t have parents that can help them, but where is the research that shows it impedes a child’s future? (article: Homework hurts, but hurting helps homework)
Furthermore, the completion of homework creates in the child an intrinsic reward and these types of rewards have shown to be far more beneficial than extrinsic ones. Alfie Kohn in his Punished by Rewards, lays out arguments against extrinsic rewards as they fail to produce any long term learning commitments. In other words, correctly doing a homework assignment helps build confidence and self-respect.
Of course, none of this really helps the teacher when confronted with the decision to give homework that is based on the educator’s years of training, education, and instincts. Experienced teachers know full well that assigning homework creates more work for them and yet they clearly see the value in helping a student become better prepared for the next day and for life. And that should be the ultimate goal of every educator.
Alan Haskvitz teaches at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut, Calif., and makes staff development presentations nationwide. In addition, he serves as an audio-visual evaluator and design consultant for his county department of education; a tutor to multi-cultural students in English and art; and an Internet consultant.
Haskvitz's career spans more than 20 years. He has taught every grade level and core subject, has been recognized repeatedly for innovative teaching and has received the following honors, among many:
USA Today All Star Teacher
100 Most Influential Educators
Reader's Digest Hero in Education
Learning Magazine's Professional Best
National Middle Level Teacher of the Year
National Exemplary Teacher
Christa McAuliffe National Award
Robert Cherry International Award for Great Teachers
In addition, Haskvitz publishes articles on successful educational practices and speaks at conferences. He has served on seven national committees and boards.
Haskvitz maintains credentials and training in special and gifted education, history, administration, bilingual education, journalism, English, social studies, art, business, computers, museumology and Asian studies. He holds these credentials for Canada, New York and California. His experience also includes staff development, gifted curriculum design, administration, community relations and motivation. His background includes 10 years of university education.
As a teacher, Haskvitz's curriculum increased CAP/CLAS test scores from the 22nd percentile to the 94th percentile, the largest gain in California history. In addition, Haskvitz and his students work continuously to improve their school and community. His students' work is often selected for awards in competitions in several subject areas. For more details about Alan and his students' work, visit his page on the Educational Cyber Playground.