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Teacher's Tips: The Importance of Homework

Homework should provide an opportunity for parents to see how their children are doing. When it becomes too time consuming or frustrating for your child, it loses value.

Homework polices vary between public school, private schools and school districts.  And there are many varying opinions about the need for homework and the amount that should be given. 

If your child is very bright and finishes his or her homework quickly, you may feel that there simply isn’t enough challenge available.  On the flip side, if your child struggles academically, you may find yourself frustrated by the amount of time it takes them to complete their work.  Some parents want more homework while others beg for less. Wherever you stand on the issue, I would like to share thoughts from a teacher’s perspective of why homework is needed, what types of assignments should be given and what to do if you feel your child simply cannot keep up with the heavy load.

Why is homework important?  It is important for parents to know how their child is doing in school.  As you watch the steps they take in completing the work, you will learn more about what is being taught in class and you will be able to see for yourself if your child is making sufficient progress toward their educational goals. It also instills important study habits that students will use for many years.

What if it is not enough and my child needs more?  If your child is finishing all their homework in a very short period of time, consider meaningful alternatives.  Visit the library so your child will have books to read.  Allow them to create a project based upon something they are interested in learning about.  “More work” isn’t necessarily better.  Encourage them to choose what they would like to do next.

What type of homework should be assigned?  For the most part, teachers assign follow up or, practice work from subjects already taught in class.  The students should be able to complete the work independently or, with a small amount of assistance or clarification.  If a special project or report is assigned, it may mean that your child will need to do extra research and take notes.  In most cases, the teachers have already explained the expectations and practiced many of the steps in class.

What if my child is struggling to complete the assignment?  It is important to examine the reasons why your child is having a problem.  Is he having difficulty focusing?  Does he understand the process?  If you find that you need to teach your child how to do an assignment, it could be a sign that they are not listening in class or that there is a problem with their comprehension.  Contact your child’s teacher and share your concerns so that you can attempt to solve the problems. 

What if the assignments are taking too much time?  Completing an assignment should take several minutes and not several hours. If your child’s assignments do not fit into the district recommended time allowances, speak to the teacher about your concerns.  A frustrated child will not learn anything from being pushed into completing more “busy” work each evening. 

Everyone needs balance.  While homework is important, other things are equally important.  Every child needs family time daily in addition to some recreation or “down” time.  Homework should be completed in a relaxed atmosphere.  It should be a practice session for your child and an opportunity for you to partner in your child’s education.  If it is causing stress, look at the reasons why and try to remove the difficulties from the homework session.                     

M October 26, 2011 at 06:46 PM
Interesting article and point of view. Did you know that Cusd is moving in a direction of less homework. More schools are providing homework class periods for students to get their homework done. Some parents have felt that there is simply too much homework coupled with all the activities children do outside of school. Consequently parents have been complaining about the amount of homework AND voicing their complaints to the superintendent, Dr. Farley. One of major players in the excessive homework is math. With the math exit exam through the state of California math requirements have been much more rigorous than other core subjects.
Lori Walker October 30, 2011 at 06:38 AM
Actually, I was not aware that CUSD was moving in that direction. However, I am glad that they are. I definitely believe that Homework is beneficial but, I am also opposed to "Too Much" homework. Children need time to enjoy family time and have recreational pursuits so I am glad parents are voicing their concerns and that Dr. Farley is listening. Thanks for your comments! :-)
M October 31, 2011 at 01:35 PM
I agree Lori about too much homework not being good. But I also think that too many after school activities are not beneficial to kids as well. Some just don't get enough rest. I realize our area is very competitive when it comes to kids sports and some parents are hoping it will lead to scholarships. I think the reality though is that our kids are burning out. Hey...sounds like a good topic for an article Lori??? :-)
Lori Walker November 01, 2011 at 05:43 AM
Thanks, M.... I do think that is a good idea and I will add it to my "idea list"!! I love that kids play sports. participate in Scouts or YMCA groups and/or music and art endeavors. However, your are correct.... it is not necessary to push a child and I am not fond of competition at the elementary age. Sports should be fun and parents should not push their children into a sport a child is not interested in. They can worry about scholarships when their child is edging towards High School. I see little benefit to burning youngsters out before they have had a chance to experience the fun of sports!! :-) Thanks again for your comments.... you have some great ideas!!

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