Are you wasting your time with homework?

Feb 28, 2013   //   Academics, Blog, Research

by Rebecca Wage

Perhaps you or your child thinks homework is a waste of time.   An article by Scientific Learning breaks down “The Great Homework Debate” by exploring the arguments for and against homework.

It seems reasonable that a child’s time outside the classroom should be spent exercising or having quality family time.  Is homework an archaic institution that needs revamping, or does it still serve a purpose in modern child’s life? To answer this question, it is important to recognize that all homework is not cast from the same mold. Homework’s value is dependent on many factors, including the age of the child, type of assignment, and the subject.  The following will explore some of the key takeaways from Scientific Learning’s findings on effective homework.

Effective homework has these characteristics:

  • It increases memorization and automaticity.  Mastering one assignment equips a student to build on that assignment by adding more information.  One of our favorite resources, The Khan Academy, perfectly demonstrates how lessons build on each other through their Knowledge Map.  Therefore, if you did not do your homework for ‘ordering negative numbers’, you will not have a sturdy foundation for ‘adding negative numbers’.
  • The focus includes just a few concepts for a deeper understanding.  Furthermore, these few concepts should match a larger learning goal; for example an assignment to demonstrate the use of metaphors contributes to the larger goal of identifying literary devices in a novel.
  • This next takeaway is crucial: timely feedback. The sooner feedback is delivered, the better, because while the material is fresh in their mind they will retain the correct answers and methods.  This aspect of homework effectiveness often lies with the teacher, who is often swamped with assignments to correct.

As a parent you may be thinking these homework takeaways are out of my control; it is up to the teacher to design the assignments and give feedback. Parents play a large role in the effectiveness of homework, and that role is facilitating, not teaching.  A main purpose of homework is to help students them help themselves: teach them where to look for answers, how to organize their time, and build responsibility.  If your child in struggling with a subject, it may be tempting to hover over their shoulder, talk them through every step of every problem, but in the end it may be more effective to offer a less intrusive form of support.

So if you are “wasting your time” with homework, consider these points and start creating a healthy relationship with homework for you and your child.  Our Homework Help Study Hall at CLC incorporates these key points in the following ways:  by offering a structured time and place to efficiently complete homework, encouraging students to find and use resources for independent problem solving, and providing appropriate and timely feedback.

Check out the rest of the article!

Center For Communication Skills, Speech & Language Pathologists, Fresno, CA