Recently, there has been an ongoing debate about the need for homework and if it should be scrapped all together. Homework serves a purpose to help support children’s learning and understand things outside of school. However, there is evidence to suggest that homework doesn’t improve a child’s academic ability. So, how do we make homework matter?
What is Homework for?
Understanding why you are doing something is the greatest motivator. If children just feel like they are being given extra work without understanding why, their reaction of discontent may seem reasonable. Nobody likes being given work with no clear indication what they are going to achieve from it, and this will be the same for children. Make sure the purpose of the exercise is known.
Arguments that are in support of homework are notions that students need to practise strengthening their learning. Homework also involves parents which provides a bridging gap between school and home life, so parents are aware of what is being taught and how much their child understands.
It also encourages children to think of subjects outside of school, from a more neutral and possibly comfortable position.
Should Children Have Homework?
There are arguments against providing children with homework, as doing homework can cut into time which is really important for other activities such as spending time with family, having time outside and hobbies. Both of which are really important to development and a happy childhood.
Here are a few suggestions on how to make homework matter.
Tailor Homework to Children
Tailoring any kind of learning specifically for a person or a child is bound to yield better results than if everyone was given the same thing. Homework should play on children’s strengths but also help them work on their weaknesses, so they feel more confident. Working on something tricky in the comfort of their own home could be conducive to their learning as they are away from the eyes and expectations of others.
Keep Homework Load Small
The school day is 08:00–17:15 at St Peter’s Prep, which means its learning from the get-go. It’s important for children to have their downtime, and also space to explore other things in their life such as hobbies or extracurricular activities. These will all contribute to their quality of life and their willingness and ability to learn. Keeping the homework load small means it keeps the learning ticking over, but leaves plenty of time for them to learn and enjoy outside of class and the school curriculum.
This can also help the feeling of homework being a burden or causing stress. Students require rest and time to have their minds taken off school and schoolwork. After a full day of learning, it’s understandable that children feel weary and if they feel bombarded with further maths problems they may burn out – which is definitely not what we want!
Use Homework as an Opportunity to Teach
Homework can be a good indictor to the strengths and weaknesses of a student in any particular subject. It also serves as a reflection of understanding from what has been learnt in class. If teachers go over homework after it’s been handed in, they could identify where some children may need more help or support, which can be useful to further tailoring homework.