How Important is Homework

Assigning homework serves various educational needs. It serves as an intellectual discipline, establishes study habits, eases time constraints on the amount of curricular material that can be covered in class, and supplements and reinforces work done in school. In addition, it fosters student initiative, independence, and responsibility and brings home and school closer together.
What Is Homework?

Homework is defined as out-of-class tasks assigned to students as an extension or elaboration of classroom work. There are three types of homework: practice, preparation, and extension.

Practice assignments reinforce newly acquired skills. For example, students who have just learned a new method of solving a mathematical problem should be given sample problems to complete on their own. Preparation assignments help students get ready for activities that will occur in the classroom. Students may, for example, be required to do background research on a topic to be discussed later in class. Extension assignments are frequently long-term continuing projects that parallel classwork. Students must apply previous learning to complete these assignments, which include science fair projects and term papers.
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Why Is Homework Important?

Research in the last decade has begun to focus on the relationship between homework and student achievement and has greatly strengthened the case for homework. Although there are mixed findings about whether homework actually increases students’ academic achievement, many teachers and parents agree that homework develops students’ initiative and responsibility and fulfills the expectations of students, parents, and the public. Studies generally have found homework assignments to be most helpful if they are carefully planned by the teachers and have direct meaning to students.
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How Can Parents Get Involved?

* Share any concerns you may have regarding the amount or type homework assigned with your child’s teacher or principal.

* Encourage your child to take notes concerning homework assignments in case questions arise later at home.

* Provide a suitable study area and the necessary tools (for example, paper and books) to complete the homework assignments.

* Limit after-school activities to allow time for both homework and family activities.

* Monitor television viewing and establish a specific homework time.

* Plan a homework schedule with your child. Allow for free time when assignments are completed.

* Praise your child’s efforts. If questions arise about the assignments, and your child asks for help, ask him or her questions or work through an example rather than simply providing the answer.

* Younger children need more parental assistance with homework than older children. Go over homework assignments with your child. Do several problems or questions together, then observe your child doing the next one or two.

* If your child is in elementary school, check completed assignments. At all levels, ask to look at homework once it has been marked and returned.

* Ask your child’s teachers about their homework policy and specific assignments.

How Much Time Should My Child Spend on Homework?

According to some researchers, two ways to increase students’ opportunities to learn are to increase the amount of time that students have to learn and to expand the amount of content they receive. Homework assignments may foster both these goals. Reforms in education have called for increased homework, and as a result, reports show that students are completing considerably more homework than they did a decade ago.

According to statements by the National PTA and the National Education Association (NEA), the following amounts of homework are recommended:

* From kindergarten to third grade, no more than 20 minutes per day.

* From fourth to sixth grade, 20 to 40 minutes per day.

* From seventh to twelfth grade, the recommended amount of time varies according to the type and number of subjects a student is taking. In general, college-bound students receive lengthier and more involved homework than students preparing to enter the workforce immediately after graduation.

Why Should Parents Be Concerned About a School Homework Policy?

* Lack of an established homework policy may place either insufficient or unrealistic demands on your child. Students may not be expected to work to capacity; alternatively, they may receive too many assignments from different teachers on the same evening.

* Schools with homework policies tend to set guidelines for teachers to correct, grade, and return homework systematically to their students, thus reinforcing learning.

* Schools with homework policies generally provide specific guidelines regarding what is expected from parents.

* Schools with homework policies tend to carefully design and provide homework assignments appropriate to each grade level.

Students may not always view homework as a pleasant experience, but if the assignment serves a good purpose and parents reinforce the completion of the tasks, students will benefit by gaining higher grades, better study habits, and a more positive attitude toward school and learning.

Homework assignments give parents insight into the school curriculum and offer a greater opportunity for student learning to occur.

Parents Have Homework, Too

“No gift is too costly (or too hard to obtain) for a parent to give his child.”

No parent would choose to give his or her child an inferior gift, or a gift that would be harmful in any way. The gift of a good education is a most valuable one. What can parents do to contribute their part to this gift? The teachers (school) have one very important part. The child has a very important part. Parents have an equally important part. Without the parent’s part, the education will not measure up.

In short, parents have homework. The home is where it all begins. Parents are the head of the home. The head of the home provides, teaches, reinforces, and enforces. If the head of the home does not fulfill its obligations, no other agency can fill in the gap. The child carries with him/her everything that is absorbed in the home. First of all, parents must supply the basic needs of the infant, including food, shelter, clothing, love, and security. By the time the child has reached school age, parents have done lots and lots of “homework.” However, the assignment is just beginning.

When the child begins school, the parent’s role takes on a new dimension, that of enhancing the “formal education.” That is, the education that is provided by the school. A parent’s role in the education of his child has many dimensions. A parent’s “homework” carries with it many responsibilities. These responsibilities include keeping the proper attitude toward education and school, supporting/helping your child, setting healthy priorities, consistency in discipline, rewards and consequences, open communication, helping with work missed during sickness, being active in school matters, and controlling your child’s school attendance.

Attitude. It begins with attitude. If you have a positive attitude toward school in general, your child will also have a positive attitude. If you have concerns about the school or the teacher, be very careful how you voice these concerns in front of your child. Your child will pick up on your attitude, adopt it as his or her own, and take it to school. Negative and apathetic attitudes are at the root of a large portion of discipline problems at school.

Support. Your child cannot go it alone. When he or she has a particular assignment that may require special help or supplies, you are the one s/he turns to for help. Be there with all the support and help possible. There may come a time when your child will need extra help on schoolwork. If you cannot provide this help, speak to your child’s teacher about it. There may be some remedial materials, or the teacher may be able to help you and your child work through the problem. You may consider outside help, such as a tutor. Arranging the schedule in the home to accommodate quality “homework” time/place is one aspect of support. Your child will need to feel secure in the fact that you will be there helping.

Priorities. In order for education to come out on top, it must be given top priority. This must be a true commitment in light of the many interesting and beneficial activities that are available for the youngsters. These include sports, scouts, music/dance lessons, and other activities. Too many activities will bring down the educational level of your child. This should be closely monitored during the school year.
Consistency. Whatever your methods of discipline, consequences, and household management, consistency is the key. When you promise a consequence, follow through. Be firm. Try not to be influenced by your child’s persuasive tactics. Children consistently test authority. Be prepared to follow through each time. Results, while not always immediate, will be forthcoming. Children are just that – children. Although they are learning to accept some responsibility, they are not yet adults, and should not be treated as such. This is their time in life to learn things like consistency and priorities, and it is your “homework” to instill these qualities in your child. Children need to know that their poor choices create consequences.

Rewards and Consequences. Worthwhile rewards may help reinforce responsible actions. However, rewards do not have to be in the form of costly material gifts. Rewards may be in the form of time spent together, a special word of praise, or a chance to skip a chore. Just let your child know how proud you are of him/her. Consequences should fit the misbehavior as much as possible, and should be done immediately, when possible. Try not to become emotional when you discipline your child, and be sure to let the incident go. “Forgive and forget.” If you remain hostile toward your child after disciplining him/her, you are distancing yourself from your child. Make sure you are still “available” to your child.

Communication with your child. Talk with your child. Listen to your child. Make casual comments about what he/she is saying to show that you are listening. Do not “put words” in his/her mouth about what went on in class. If your child has an unpleasant story to tell you, do not make it worse for him/her by becoming visibly upset. This will only upset the child even more. Let your child tell the story in his or her own way, in his or her own time. If you resort to an “interrogation”, you will likely get the story from a biased point of view. If the problem persists, call or write the teacher.

Communication with your child’s teacher. Keep the lines of communication open. Check your child’s agenda daily. This is the teacher’s best method of communicating with you. Always go to the teacher with any problems before going to the principal. You and the teacher are on the same side – the side of your child. The teacher wants your child to succeed. Make a friend of the teacher.

Missed Work. If your child is absent due to an illness, he or she may need extra attention from you in order to get caught up on assignments missed. Your child most likely has a given number of days to get the work done and turned in. If the illness is prolonged, you may call the school for assignments, but be sure to make every effort to see that the work is actually done. This extra effort on the part of your child’s teachers is very time consuming, and the time is taken from their planning or from their classes. This practice is one that is encouraged if you plan to see that your child does the work. If you have an occasion in which your child cannot complete a daily assignment because of a family emergency, write a note to the teacher asking for a one day extension. It is likely that your child will have consequences at school for missing work. “Homework” for the parents is to instill the importance of school assignments in your children.

Be involved. Show your child that you want to be involved in his or her school. Whenever you get notification of a school meeting, or a school need, show that you are interested. Participate in various activities at school. If there is a school event, show up with your child.
Child’s Attendance. You, as the parent have the power to control your child’s attendance, including being on time. Poor attendance and tardiness directly affect a child’s school success in numerous ways, emotionally as well as scholastically. Please understand that signing out is the same as being absent. Your child will miss vital instruction. Instruction continues up until dismissal. When you sign your child out unnecessarily, you are telling your child that school doesn’t matter. Restrict sign outs to sickness of the child, or a true family emergency. “Homework” for you as the parent is to keep your child in school.

Yes, parents have “homework”. Your homework continues as long as you are responsible for your child. Without your part, your child’s school experience will not be all that it can be. Together, let’s prepare the “Gift” of education for your child!

© Copyright 1998 Sybil Humphries.

Educational Tips

Below please find a few tips that can help you get the most out of your education:

  • Take responsibility for your own education. How much you learn is up to you.
  • Be an active participant in the educational process: ask questions, express your ideas, seek out opportunities to learn.
  • Get to know your professors.
  • Go to class regularly, on time and alert.
  • Keep an open mind; we often learn the most from those with opposing opinions and “crazy ideas.”
  • Make friends with classmates who have backgrounds different from your own.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to supplement your coursework. Volunteer for the community, pursue a special project in an area of interest, get involved in campus activities.
  • Use the multitude of resources available at USF and throughout the city of San Francisco.

Managing your time effectively

The best students are not always the brightest – just the most skilled time managers. Here are some quick tips on the subject:

  • Plan to spend about 3 hours per week studying for every hour of class time; if you’re taking 15 units you will need to schedule 45 hours per week for studying.
  • Develop your weekly schedule: schedule all classes, work hours, study time, class time, campus activities, exercise and recreation. Remember that sleep accounts for approximately 56 hours per week, and with studying taking up about 45 hours per week, you only have 64 hours of the week left! Plan your time wisely!
  • Be realistic in planning your schedule – and then live by it.
  • Using your syllabus from each of your classes, record in your appointment book the dates that all tests are scheduled and all papers, presentations and projects are due.
  • Prioritize your tasks when you sit down to study. Do the most pressing and the most challenging first.
  • Study in a place where potential distractions are minimized. (Beware of the telephone if you study at home.)
  • Allow yourself frequent short breaks when studying to rejuvenate your ability to concentrate.
  • Use your time between classes, waiting for the bus, or standing in line to review notes of chapters or memorize terms.
  • Start studying for exams a week before they are scheduled. Discover problem areas before it is too late to resolve them.
  • Review and edit class notes as soon as possible after class, preferably within 24 hours.
  • Preview reading assignments, study introductions and summaries, and develop a list of questions to seek answers to before actually reading a chapter.