This article is one of a two-part series. To read yesterday's discussion on homework, click HERE.
Do students in the U.S. really have that much homework? Parents in Maplewood, New Jersey say yes. Based on research, parent and teacher surveys as well as recommendations from district officials, board members at Galloway Township Public School District will soon consider discontinuing weekend homework forever, and The Huffington Post reported.
In doing my own research, I found a 2003 report stating that higher acedemic standards do not result in more homework. According to The Brown Center Report that examined this topic from various sources, homework has stayed relatively constant despite the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Over the last 50 years, the majority of U.S. students have spent less than one hour on homework daily among all grade levels. In the last 20 years, homework has increased only in the lower grades; this increase has had neutral and sometimes a negative impact on student achievement.
The first question: How much homework should be assigned? The National Education Association and the National PTA recommend 10 minutes per grade level per day (10 minutes for first grade and 120 minutes for twelfth graders; high school students may do more depending on whether they take Advanced Placement or other rigorous classes). From my experience thus far, I have found that South Pasadena schools are pretty aligned with the recommended workload.
The second question: What are the benefits of doing homework? Studies have shown that homework can have a positive impact on learning. According to the research study “The Case for and against Homework,” there’s growing evidence showing homework can be useful when employed effectively. The authors, for instance, did find a link between homework and higher achievement.
Experts say that homework can provide the following benefits: review and practice of concepts, preparation for more complex lessons, development of study habits, additional time for a deeper dive of topics, enhancing and solidifying learning, developing time management skills, fostering independent learning and keeping families informed about what the child is learning at school.
The Department of Education states that homework can improve children’s thinking and memory while developing positive study skills and habits that can serve them well throughout their lives. The department also suggests that homework helps kids learn to be responsible for their work. Parents should be involved but too much involvement, on the other hand, can make children dependent on parental discipline. This takes away opportunities for children to develop independence and responsibility for themselves.
The biggest challenge, I think, is instilling that sense of ownership and self-motivation. Kids don’t naturally gravitate toward work. With our own kids, we explain to them that everyone has a job and doing homework and learning is their job. They understand that homework is non-negotiable, because it helps ensure that they understand the materials taught at school. If there are areas they don’t grasp, homework highlights those areas while we try to provide reinforcement at home. We monitor their work, but we don’t do their work for them. If we see that they’ve done a poor job, we give the homework back to them to redo until we’re satisfied with the work product.
One of the most difficult things for me is allowing my children to fail sometimes (for example, by getting a poor homework grade) where we think they have been particularly irresponsible (such as procrastinating endlessly or losing their assignment sheet). Permitting children to fail as a “lesson” is certainly not a common technique in Taiwan when I was growing up—that’s for sure!
For tips from the Department of Education on helping your kids with homework at home, click HERE.