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Homework! Does it really matter?

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

This topic can be such an unknown area for parents, and I can totally relate to the feeling of not knowing what to do, how to do it or even worse, not knowing what our role is in the entire process. Firstly I wanted to acknowledge the research that is out there to help guide and support a better understanding to my readers here especially to parents who may feel a little bit unsure.

In a piece of academic research that I came across, I read so many pros and cons in the homework space and trust me, there is a lot of yes’ and no’s on the matter. So, what is homework to you? Or better put, how do we better define homework?

Homework can be viewed as work conducted outside of school time that is an expectation or task requirement from their school or parent, counsellor or tutor. Further, homework includes a range of different tasks presented in different ways which can come in the form of assignments, worksheets, exam preparation, case studies and much more.

However, I am here to redefine what homework is and how to better understand it in a way that will best serve you and your family.

Homework shouldn’t feel like this obligatory mundane task to parents. It already may feel like that to your child but we as parents need to look at options on how we can best support. If your child is young and in the ages of 5-12, assistance and support of a parent is critical in fact, research argues that ‘the impact of parental involvement on student academic achievement has been recognised by teachers, administrators, and policy-makers who consider parental involvement to be one of the important parts of new educational reforms and initiatives.’ (Wilder, 2013)

Furthermore, research also shows that homework does in fact play a critical, long-term role in the development of children's achievement motivation. Homework provides children with time and experience to develop positive beliefs about achievement, as well as strategies for coping with mistakes, difficulties, and setbacks.

Parents are important in providing open communication opportunities with their children to express how much they value school achievement. Besides helping their children to practice reading, spelling, and math skills, parents can be involved with their child’s interest by having contracts with their children about study times, offering rewards for completed assignments, better coaching them in discipline and perseverance or merely by signing homework before it is returned to school.

Don’t think you are alone, students, teachers, counsellors, and parents are all important in determining the degree to which homework is effective in meeting its goals. Teachers assign homework, parents provide the environment in which it is done, and students each with a unique profile of motivation and preference for learning do the homework.

Let me tell you, it is a challenge for everyone involved to cooperate, share information about children's homework motivation and preferences, and develop ways to be used at school and at home to attain a better match between what the child likes to do and has to do when learning.

Do we as parents want to fall to the patterns of what we have allowed ourselves to do, or do we want better change? If you are someone who struggles to provide a learning environment at home, we can still do it by being that little bit extra involved in the process. Providing a proper learning environment is critical. Not only this but creating homework or learning exercises yourself to promote positive learning could be all that is needed.

You don’t need to be a teacher to figure this all out or a super parent who really thinks that they have it all downpat whilst managing 3+ kids at once. All that is needed is a scheduled slot of quiet time within the week that is strictly allocated to learning. The learning can look like anything you please. I know a lot of home-school parents do this quite a bit and create their own activities that may involve self-learning and real-life skills.

As for the advice that I can offer I will offer it the field of English literacy because that is obviously my area of specialty.

If you are a parent who has young kids and doesn’t receive homework: There is a range of things that you can do:

· Reading activities and role playing out characters to family members

· Family excursions to the library or community-based group activity

· Providing options of learning activities: e.g. writing, reading, situational learning.

· Journaling

· PowerPoint presentation on a world topic or issue

· Poster creations on a current affair

· Religious or cultural activities

There is so much to do, and the best thing is doing something that your child will like or that they are interested in. Shaping personal experiences and knowledge you have can also work in favour when creating activities too.

If your child receives homework from school as I mentioned previously, your involvement may be just providing an opportunity and space for them to complete it. Being there to assist them with their thinking and planning as well as reiterating the importance of learning and respect. Helping them to see the bigger picture in your words may help them understand better as to why they are doing the work. Redefining their goals and having open communication about it will also keep you in check about knowing what their strengths and weaknesses are and to further work out how you can better provide support or resources.

I hope this post helps you and has better provide clarity on the whole homework front. Please leave any comments about what has worked for you or what doesn’t.

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