Homework. It has become a controversial subject with schools, parents, and children. Should the young have homework after spending 7 hours in school every day? In this pandemic, with many kids online, how much work should they be doing independent of their teacher, after something has been taught? And how stressful are the nightly battles that many parents face getting their children to do those assignments? And are kids sacrificing time to just be children when they have so much “seat time” doing homework? These are some of the reasons why kids should not have homework given by some parents and teachers.
But as we look at why kids shouldn’t have homework, we need to also think about why kids should have homework. There are some strong reasons for this position.
Do Kids Need Homework?
Both educators and researchers have pointed out quite a few benefits for homework, and they are pretty compelling:
- The most important reason is probably for students to practice what they have learned during the day at school. As they practice, that learning becomes more ingrained in their memories, and they retain it. In subjects such as math, this is critical because each new concept or skill builds on what kids have learned before.
- Working through homework allows students to improve their thinking skills and their memories.
- Homework allows kids to develop skills in working independently. These are skills they will need throughout their lives, especially on the job.
- Homework often helps children to learn how to find the resources they need at libraries or on the internet. Again, this is an important skill.
- It helps kids with time management and organization, both of which they will need all their lives.
- Homework also teaches the young to take responsibility and to be held accountable for completing tasks they have been given.
- When parents oversee homework completion, they know what their kids are learning in school.
- Some homework will force students to apply skills they have learned to new situations. Math word problems are a prime example of this.
How Much Homework Should Kids Have?
This, too, is a subject for debate. In general, educators believe that, as students progress through their schooling, the amount of homework should increase too. Probably, this opinion stems from the fact that young children need more time to “just be kids” and to develop other social skills that come from playing with friends, from participating on sports teams, and such. In American culture, this seems to be a strong thought. In other cultures, particularly in Asia, schoolwork and achievement are far more important than play and sports time.
So should kids have more homework than they do now? Some believe that if American kids are to be competitive in an ever-smaller world, they need more. And as our body of knowledge continues to increase, how will they ever learn all that they need to, if they are to be successful as adults?
And at what point is there just too much homework for kids? Are they to spend all of their evenings at the kitchen table or desks, grinding away?
Should parents help with homework? This, too, becomes a subject for debate, especially if parents end up doing the homework for their children just to get it done. We all know of parents who have actually done their kids’ science projects in order for them to get praise and a great grade. This really teaches kids nothing. Parents should certainly be available to help but not to take over.
An Important Solution
So, do kids really need homework?
There must be a balance here. Children do need time to develop social skills; they do need downtime – time that is not packed with homework and running from place to place for activities.
Perhaps the solution for homework is not to give more. Perhaps the focus should be on teaching the youth to learn how to learn and how to think critically. If we do this, then any information they need to digest they know where to go to find. And if they have learned how to think critically and to analyze, they can lend that critical eye to what they read and see. This is the real future of education, not a worksheet full of math problems or spelling words.
Posted by Diana B.