“With homework, school prepares students for overtime. With reports, it prepares them for payday.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Homework: here’s a subject that causes as much upset for educators as it does for parents and students.
Does homework work? How should it be set? How much is good? Should parents help?
In the last week, I can cite two examples of homework being set one day which were due in the next, contravening the school’s policy on homework; one homework which involved making a poster supporting Hitler’s policies; and a number of MyMaths exercises where the student really didn’t understand the topics in the first place and found it very difficult to learn them just by attempting online questions with barely any support.
A 2002 National Foundation for Educational Research article by Caroline Sharp suggests homework has a “positive effect” on achievement for Secondary pupils and can be helpful for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. However, Primary schools aiming to raise achievement by setting more homework “could be disappointed”.
More recently, in January 2014, a survey of 2000 parents for the Bett Education and Technology show, revealed that around 500 thought their children’s homework too hard while around 1300 said they had been unable to help at times it was so hard!
Homework is a really contentious issue and not just at the kitchen table!
On the plus side, homework is great for practise; revising skills with which students are familiar and building confidence is an excellent strategy. The brain, just like the body, needs to repeat activities to achieve results.
Homework is also good for developing personal study skills. Organising, working to a deadline, and concentrating independently are all great life skills. (Or preparation for drudgery if you go with the rather depressing headline quote)
Homework can also be a great way to engage parents. Yes you read that correctly! Parents get a chance to view another aspect of their children. They can understand better what motivates them and what they are really interested in.
Should we help our children with their homework? Many parents do and so have I. There is a big difference between being asked for help and giving pointers and actually doing the work, however me sticking my oar in can cause friction and I think the teacher would rather know how well my daughter is doing than how well I know the subject! I want my daughter to know her own limits and learn independence so I’m going to be helping a lot less.