Homework: scale-tipping backpacks, towering stacks of literary classics, mathematical symbols that seem to swirl on the page after a while. These memories are alive and well for today’s youth, whose take-home assignments aren’t all that different than the ones you did as a kid. After all, homework has been an educational staple since the dawn of formal schooling, and it’s endured because of its positive effects on children’s attitudes toward learning. But let’s examine the issue a little deeper – because not everyone loves homework!
Many parents and educators believe at-home assignments help students develop independence, responsibility, and time management skills. Furthermore, homework makes students realize that learning can take place anywhere, not solely in the classroom. And homework can benefit parents as well, giving them a window into the classroom.
But some parents (and MANY students) scoff at the notion that homework has any tangible benefits. Homework’s opponents say the extra work puts unnecessary pressure on students, “robs children of childhood”, and may even cause self-esteem issues. The most fervid detractors contend that homework turns learning into a mind-numbing exercise, based solely on rote memorization and repetition of material, as opposed to an exciting learning adventure.
What can you do to make sure homework doesn’t overwhelm, frustrate, or bore your child? Be positive – your attitude about homework is the one your student will base theirs upon. If they’re struggling with a subject, have them work on that subject first so they’ll be most alert. When they ask for help, provide guidance, not answers. And when it comes to tasks that seem like pure, boring memorization, try and show your student other alternatives: vocabulary words, for example, are a lot easier to recall if you can come up with a sentence that uses them in a funny and memorable way. Finally, don’t forget to reward your child’s progress. Set goals with incentives, even if those incentives are just a parent’s praise. (And, though we’d never recommend “bribery”, there are a lot of fine toys on our site to reward the most exceptional homework-improvers!)