Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Homework Debate

There has been a lot of talk recently about an article shown here.  In short there was another study done in which they "prove" that homework isn't needed.  Grades apparently don't increase with homework and there is no correlation to success from homework. 

One school in my area has decided to do away with science homework all together beginning next year.  They feel it is the teacher's job to teach the students during the day and that the kids will be fine and understand the materials.

I beg to disagree. 

Kids benefit from homework for many reasons.  My oldest daughter is a natural student and brings home great grades without putting forth too much effort.  She completes her homework daily and she and I both see a benefit to it.

She would probably still get good grades but not great ones.  In many subjects especially math there are often a couple of problems that she just doesn't understand.  She attempts her best at them and then we talk about how to solve them.  I usually make up a new problem and show her step by step how to do it then she redoes her homework.  She is a perfectionist and if she didn't have homework to show her the types of problems she had trouble with she would be devastated come test time. 

Now take my middle daughter who is not the most natural student.  She works hard for her grades.  She puts countless hours of work into her schooling every single day.  So this year when she no longer had math homework her grades TANKED.  Big time.  She is not a perfectionist she is okay with a decent grade.  No homework meant indecent grades.  She was devastated. 

Cue a long talk with the teacher about why there is no math homework and arguing my daughter's case.  Lo and behold there was math homework we could do on our own.  She now spends 10-15 minutes a night doing math homework (that the rest of the class doesn't do) and is actually achieving the highest grades on her tests.  She has so much more confidence and went from crying every day that she hated school to enthusiastically running to school each morning. 

Now when her "spelling" work is getting harder than she can handle and there is once again no homework to support her learning I know what to do.  Ask the teacher what we can do at home to improve the learning.  Guess who's idea that was - my daughter's.  Kids don't want to fail or do poorly.  Elementary aged children in particular still strive for assurance and praise.  If we can help them to succeed early on by providing them tools for success then they won't give up on themselves later. 

If my daughter hadn't gotten the homework she needed we still would have worked to improve her grades but it would have been much tougher.  Instead she is learning to ask for help and seeing that "homework" is really just more learning, she knows that she is capable of achieving more than she was.  That knowledge could have been squashed very easily if she had continued her low level of achievement.

Now I get it not all parents are home after school to do homework with their child.  I get it kids have so many other commitments that homework may be the last task of the day.  I get it that most parents don't necessarily know their kids grades until progress reports or later.  I also get it that there are kids out there who have ridiculously too much homework.  But I wholeheartedly believe that homework has many benefits.

1. Homework is a connecting force between child and parent. We get to see what they do each day and can have meaningful conversations about how they will use this later or even how they won't (yes we can laugh when our kids tell us something we learned and don't remember). 

2. Homework teaches kids good habits, it is like a chore it teaches them responsibility.

3. It can give a child that extra confidence that they are capable.  To know that they are able to finish with a slightly higher grade.

4. Doing homework alleviates time when a student just didn't understand something in class.  Maybe they had an emotional night and can't focus, maybe they are sick and just not concentrating, maybe the teacher really didn't do a great job with this lesson, homework allows them to recoup what they missed.

Hearing that schools might be doing away with homework is extremely concerning and saddening.  I agree to limit homework - no child should spend every minute from after school until bedtime doing homework.  And yes please get rid of busy work.  We should maybe even tailor homework to specific groups within the classroom (my daughter's teacher has three levels of reading comprehension homework). 

Please do your child a favor and encourage them with their homework and ask for homework in subjects that are difficult for your child.  Our kids are our future and I for one want to encourage our future to be even better than our present.

-Ash of All Trades



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