Ask the School Psychologist...|
by Beth Bruno, Ed.M., M.A.
Benefits of Homework
Homework has always been a controversial topic. Let's examine the subject of homework: its purposes and benefits, and consider it from the perspectives of teachers, parents and students.
TEACHERS: A teacher who wrote to me about the development of homework assignments stated, "First, I give my students a detailed syllabus at the beginning of each marking period. Students are free to turn in work early, but I don't accept late work. When homework is turned in, I check to see that it is complete and then evaluate its accuracy. I sometimes write correct answers on the board, so the students can check the accuracy of their work independently.
"Second, I wrap my lesson plans around the previous night's homework so that the students have to finish their homework in order for the lesson to make sense. If you want students to do homework, they must see that it is a valuable part of each class and not just busy work.
"Finally, I exact a strict penalty for missing homework. It is due the next day, along with an additional five times for punishment, if not done. (I know the arguments about not using schoolwork for discipline, but the word is out, and I don't have many students who take me up on having to do an assignment multiple times.) I let them know that they receive all of their assignments in advance, so there is no excuse for not planning their schedules to accommodate their assignments. It is a responsibility that is up to them. Buy the way, my school is full of kids who are 'at-risk' for failure, but very few of my students fail. Only once have I had to explain the rules to a parent. When I did, she made her son write his missing assignments 15 times each -- all six of them!"
PARENTS: Parents wonder about the purpose of homework, especially when it interferes with extracurricular activities or badly needed sleep. They rarely complain about assignments that clearly require thought and learning, but dislike homework that contains several repetitions of tasks their child has obviously already mastered.
Parents will be supportive of homework completion when: length of assignment is reasonable; the purpose of the assignment is clear and the content substantive for the age and ability of their child; the child is required to correct mistakes (thus indicating improved understanding and mastery); the assignments show some imagination and challenge so the child doesn't perceive them as pointless busy work.
Parents appreciate guidance from teachers about how to be most helpful to their children when either the child or the parent doesn't understand a homework assignment. Especially in situations where parents' primary language is not English, numerous misunderstandings can arise.
STUDENTS: Even though most kids say that they hate homework, most recognize its value in helping them internalize new learning and exploring ideas, facts and opinions. Since individuals learn at different rates, homework helps students stay together in the curriculum, by allowing students who require repetition and extra time to complete daily work and review it in the afternoon and evening before the next class meeting.
The most important thing to students is to see homework as relevant to their studies and to receive feedback about the quality and accuracy of their work. Without such feedback mistakes recur. Repeated mistakes just stamp in inaccuracies and misconceptions that get harder and harder to correct the longer they are left uncorrected.
For example, allowing creative spelling might increase creative production, but can stamp in errors if left uncorrected for too long.
Readers, what are your concerns about homework? How can the extra time students have after school and on weekends be used most productively to improve academic performance?
Benefits of Homework:
Homework tips for parents:
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Beth Bruno email@example.com
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