Is Homework Really Necessary in Class?
Are Homework Homework? Depends on the Grade. Teachers Share Their Approaches
We should all have one homework assignment a night: Read what you need to read.
Once an all-night homework session, homework is now a necessary part of your child’s academics, but at what cost? According to multiple studies, many parents believe that homework leads to poorer academic performance and that this might even be a case with students as young as 6 and 7 years old.
But there are several studies that show otherwise, including an American Psychological Association study. The organization noted, “Current research suggests there are no conclusive findings regarding whether homework enhances or detracts from student achievement.”
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In a different APA study from 2000, parents and teachers reported that — after all that homework — kids did improve with age. “The more homework children do, the more they become accustomed to it,” said Robert Thompson, a psychology professor at Syracuse University who’s the author of The Man Who Would Be Son. “They internalize the learning and think about it more easily.”
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Stacey DaSilva, a third-grade teacher in Wichita, Kansas, has students take four eight-week math and language arts classes, during which time they will be graded based on their work.
“I need students to know my expectations for their homework, but I don’t take that seriously,” she says. “I work with them to help them overcome those areas, whether it’s reading a passage more closely or learning which word in a sentence to use for a look.”
Each evening, DaSilva assigns her students a series of ten questions from the geography test that they must answer without looking up at the clock.
“The best way to get their attention is to call a timeout in the middle of the questions, explain the homework passage and ask the students to rest their eyes,” she says. “This helps them focus on the task at hand without flipping through their cellphones and searching for answers.”
Other teachers suggest “curating” homework. According to Katie Norton, a sixth-grade teacher at Gunter Middle School in Minnesota, her students finish homework entirely on their own or in groups. “Students can choose a topic and pair it with some rules about how to proceed,” she says. “This produces a structure that works best for their research interests and skill sets.”
Tips from Surprising Sources on Getting Homework Done on Time!
Ezekiel Scott, a business owner and education and personal finance expert, gives his own advice on how to make the most of your son’s homework.
“Make sure it’s satisfying. Bring in word pictures and diagrams and names of people and date it out with dates in bold so he can see how long it has been since a certain date,” he says. “This helps him understand how far it’s taken him to finish the project.”
“I love to see his eyes light up when he thinks about the quiz questions he’s been practicing. They come up and down like elevator music,” Scott adds. “He loves them! This also gives him another excuse to come home early.”
—Katrina Schwartz, @MsKatyD