Homework: Yes or No?
Homework has been a part of students’ lives since the beginning of formal schooling in the United States. Many believed homework could accelerate knowledge acquisition. The mind was viewed as a muscle that could be strengthened through mental exercise which could be done at home with drill, so homework was viewed favorably. But what about the value of social experience, outdoor recreation, and creative activities? Then along came rigorous mandated academic standards and the push for homework was refueled. [Gill and Schlossman]
Boy, talk about a roller coaster! I was raised in the 1950’s and 1960’s with homework at the center of after school and evening chores. When I was in high school I studied from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night. My parents were adamant however that I go to bed by 10 p.m. because rest was just as important to school success as was my nutrition.
Today, the value of homework is cycling back around to the idea that ‘less might be more’ by both parents and children. Are we in the midst of another homework revolution?
Reading, Writing and Arithmetic are the building blocks for academic success! Higher order thinking skills and problem solving is the mortar to stabilize the foundation and can incorporate as your child grows. I feel any homework should balance these needs while keeping an eye on minimizing stress and pressure. Homework needs to be tailored for access by all. Now, the question is HOW SHOULD HOMEWORK LOOK IN THIS DEBATE?
OVERVIEW: Make homework relevant, first and foremost. If it is extra tutoring help that would benefit your child the most, then that is the focus for your child’s homework. The following TIPS can be shared responsibilities and include all family members and extended family like grandma’s and grandpa’s. Make use of technology and places in the community that provide access to technology beyond the home setting, for those who don’t have this access. Community fundraisers may be needed or seek corporate involvement?
TIP 1: READING is THE foundation brick to education. Parents should read with their child every day. “I can’t read English, you say?” Well, local libraries and your child’s teacher and school library can help. Audio books and digital ebooks all offer ways for you to read with your child. Tape yourself reading a favorite book of your child’s so they can listen to it whenever they want. Ask your child’s teacher to host a parent night where you can tape books for your child with the aid of others. PTOs can contribute by sponsoring book fairs, free book giveaways, and family literacy nights at your child’s school. Don’t forget about the older kids. They love to read to younger children just as much as younger children love being read to by them. Take a menu, bus schedule, or article from the newspaper or online and create a reading activity. For example, the youngest children can look for words with a certain beginning letter? Count the number of letters in words to see which are the longest? Circle all the sight words? Higher Order Thinking Skills: Chart the findings from smallest to largest number of letters. Prepare a powerpoint document for sight word mastery. Put one word per slide and queue the transition rate to automatically flash at 1 word every three seconds or less.
TIP 2: MATH can be incorporated into a shopping experience. Maybe you don’t need to go shopping every day but use newspaper ads or online ads/searches to simulate such an experience and incorporate whatever level of math your child needs. No access to ads, try your local library who carry many magazine choices. Counting the number of objects to adding costs, dividing for unit costs, measurements, smaller or larger, cheaper or most expensive comparisons and graphing. Create word problems. For younger students, count buttons or beans…add and subtract using them. Use favorite recipes to explore measuring and fractions.
TIP 3: WRITING is putting thoughts to paper or computer. Encourage your child to journal. Journals can be hard copy or set up as a document on a computer. Many times inner issues will be expressed through writing. Take an example of a real life episode from the news, newspaper, or online, and ask your child to write their thoughts to this: “what would you have done?” Let your child write the grocery list and have them check the spelling as they go through the grocery while shopping with you.
TIP 4: HIGHER ORDER THINKING SKILLS are the prize to reading and comprehension. Ultimately your child will be expected to take the mechanics of education listed above and apply them in real time throughout their life. Work the development of these skills in while building their educational foundation.
- Comparison: compare the cost to unit size of food items on a grocery list
- Prediction: using a bus schedule, predict how long it will take to get from point A to point B
- Analysis: what are the common factors for a successful soccer game
- Inference: what is a possible outcome for a child who says hurtful words to another
- Opinion: how does family time benefit you?
- Summarize: starting with this morning, tell what things you did today
Parents should be engaged and supportive. Well-designed homework can strengthen a child’s learning and create connections between school and family and insight into their child’s curriculum. Homework should be used as an extension to classroom learning and an individual child’s needs.
CALL TO ACTION: Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your opinion on homework. Start the conversation.