By Darlene Gavron Stevens, LCPC
Personally or professionally, I have never heard a child or teen utter the words, “I love homework and can’t wait to start it after school!”
At the highest end of the positivity spectrum, they are simply resigned or neutral. Homework is an easy way to boost their grade. At the mid- to lowest end, the very word “homework” sparks tears, power struggles and crumpled or ripped assignment papers.
So let’s examine the “H” word, the pros and cons, and the conflicting research about its efficacy.
Homework load widely varies by district, teacher, grade level and course. I heard on the radio today that a mom posted the note of her child’s teacher, saying that instead of homework the teacher wanted more family or downtime for the student.
This made the national news.
Homework is generally touted as a way for students to learn what they need to know within a limited classroom day. It reinforces and supplements what a child or teen is being taught. Homework also undoubtedly teaches self-discipline and problem solving. In the end, it encourages work before play. How can the student get help? What resources/tutoring do they need to excel?
Opponents of homework point to studies that show homework has little or no impact on grades. In reality, a missed assignment or poorly understood assignment can drastically pull down a decent grade. Some students have more parental help than others, which leaves a less-than-level playing field, it is argued.
As the debate continues, I recommend making homework a priority, following a brief break after school. Give time for a snack or some physical activity (no electronics). Encourage a positive attitude about homework and how it can impact grades. We all have duties we dread (such as paperwork, bill paying or cleaning) but it is a vital part of being a successful adult. Role model for your children the value of paying bills on time, keeping up with household chores and keeping a positive attitude about mundane but necessary daily tasks.
They are paying attention, even if they don’t let on, that you care that the parent permission slip gets signed, or their lunch account is loaded.
As for homework? Try to help your children develop an “I’ve got this” attitude, ask for help, stay focused, and finish efficiently.
Then, hopefully, there will be more “home play” time.