Most teachers give homework to their students. But, many students struggle with homework, and homework time is miserable. As parents we wonder, "Why do children need homework?"
Having independent work to do outside of school gives children the opportunity to develop organization and time management skills. Young children can learn from parents things like when and where to do homework, and older children can learn to make choices about homework that demonstrate good decision-making skills. When children grow up and have a job, organization and time management are skills that can be of great benefit.
Another benefit of homework is that it can give children the opportunity to practice skills they learned in class. This type of homework is the most beneficial to students (as opposed to the kind where children are supposed to teach themselves by reading ahead).
Some homework gives children the opportunity to extend their knowledge about what they are studying in school. These assignments are investigative in nature and each child explores something of interest to them. Frequently, they are asked to report back to the class what they learned. In this way everyone learns more and it is more exciting because it came from the children instead of the teacher.
How can parents make sure homework helps their child?
There are several things you can do as a parent to help your child get the most benefit from it.
- Keep a positive attitude. Children learn by watching the adults around them. If you have a good attitude (excitement about the material, enthusiasm about the new skills), then your attitude will rub off on your children.
- Schedule time in the day for homework. It helps if everyone in the house is quiet during homework time. The television, video games, telephone, and other distractions should be minimal. Children should not accept social calls during homework time. Parents can plan time for paying bills, organizing files, folding clothes or something else that is relatively quiet. If there is no time in the day for homework, then consider dropping some extracurricular activities from your child’s schedule.
- Help children see how they are benefiting from the homework. Parents can tell their child what kind of homework the assignment is. "This looks like some good skill practice." Or, "Wow, you get to explore a whole new topic tonight."
If homework is taking way too much time to do, your child’s teacher may need to be involved in helping to problem-solve. Children who struggle in school may need their homework assignments to be modified in some way. I will write more about possible modifications in a future blog. Please let me know what kinds of struggles you are having with homework. Perhaps together we can figure out how to help!
If homework is an issue at your house, be sure to also read June Allan Corrigan’s great article on Ending Homework Hassles.