Are There Benefits to Homework?

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 2.55.01 PM

Screen Shot 2016-08-06 at 2.55.01 PM

Yes or No?

Love it or hate it -- Homework is back at the forefront of educational debate.

Like so many trends in education, the pendulum swings back and forth. Every school, every administrator, every teacher has a different take on the benefits of homework. Every parent has a love/hate relationship with homework!  From all the nagging and reminding to the feeling of inadequacy when you can't remember algebra or how to diagram a sentence.

In a recent article for Lifehack, Maria Onzain reports, "After over 25 years of studying and analyzing homework, Harris Coopers’ research demonstrates a clear conclusion: homework wrecks elementary school students.

In his book, The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents, the homework guru gives details about the relationship between homework and success at different grade levels:

  • Homework has significant benefit for high school students

  • It drops off for middle school students

  • There is NO BENEFIT at the elementary level.

Giving homework TOO EARLY:

  • Generates a negative attitude toward school (which carries through all their school career)

  • Damages relationship with parent because of the constant reminding

  • Gives a false sense of responsibility-its the parents who are planning and remembering, not typically the child (It does help build it at a later age.)

  • Takes time away from needed sleep (10 hours is great!)

  • Leaves less time for kids to be kids (go outside and play!)

Home context matters

As a mentor to a Somali refugee family, I know that what goes on at home has a big influence on whether homework ever comes out of the backpack. In this family of 9, there is not a consciousness about reading and schoolwork, the parents work outside the home, and English is not their first language. My 13 year old student has a hard enough time at school and he certainly isn't going to sign on for more difficulty at home (where there is no one to help him anyway) but because homework assignments are graded, he is constantly at a disadvantage.

Parental Help

You helping isn't seen to be of great benefit in the study, either. All of the nagging and reminding that accompany homework can escalate into “the epic homework battle.”

This definitely affects parent child relationships - at least it did for me.  

True confession...I was in 3rd grade and still had not mastered the times tables. My mom quizzed me every night (which I hated) and then she had the "brilliant" idea of hanging the flashcards around my room - right up where the wall meets the ceiling. So, every night - in that "magical" time before bed - I got to recite the times tables.  Only I still couldn't do it... and I was angry and that time with my mom was filled with angst and anger. Not recommended.

If teachers are going to give homework, they must be sure that parents understand how a specific concept is being taught, otherwise, they can mitigate any of the positive effects of homework.

No rescuing!

Parental involvement should lessen as kids get older.

You are building personal responsibility and that includes dealing with the consequences of forgotten homework, reports, and projects. Teach them how to remember their work for school but make it very clear that you will not be bringing anything forgotten to school.

THEY will have to navigate and negotiate with their teachers, another great way to learn personal responsibility!


*Join the Boys Alive! community below for updates and more.*