Maximizing Academic Success: The Advantages of In-School Homework Hours
This initiative supports our mission to not only educate but to empower our students to become independent, resourceful, and successful individuals.
In recent years, there have been spirited debates among parents and educators about the value of homework. Some believe that homework is essentially busywork that places undue stress on students while reducing their free time and preventing them from enjoying extracurricular activities. Some school districts have moved to ban or severely limit the amount of homework that students are allowed to receive. Before schools and parents wage an all-out war on homework, it is important to examine the many benefits that students receive from thoughtful and well-planned homework assignments.
When students are in the classroom, they learn new concepts and are given the opportunity to complete assignments and projects with help and support from their peers and teachers. However, time in the classroom is limited and does not allow students enough time for deeper exploration. Homework allows teachers to assign longer papers or projects that often provide students with choices as they delve deeper into the content.
The goal of education is for students to be able to learn and use their knowledge outside of the classroom. While teacher instruction and support are necessary, homework allows students to practice what they have learned on their own. Learning how to work independently can help build students’ confidence in their abilities and prevent them from becoming overly dependent on their teachers or peers for academic support.
Without homework, students often believe that school is where they learn, and home is where they take a break from learning. When done correctly, homework can reinforce the belief that children should always be learning. At school, they learn with the support of teachers and classmates; at home they continue learning independently and with occasional support from their parents. This mindset can help to ensure that students become lifelong learners even after they have graduated from school.
Strong time management skills makes it entirely possible for students to complete their homework and participate in sports and other extracurricular activities without feeling overwhelmed. Homework gives parents and teachers the opportunity to teach students how to prioritize tasks and utilize organizational tools such as planners and to-do lists. The time management skills that children learn from balancing homework with their extracurricular activities will serve them well throughout their lives where they will have to juggle their careers, home lives, and other interests and obligations.
When students are assigned homework, parents have a better understanding of what their children are learning in school. They are able to see where their children excel as well as where they are struggling. Homework allows parents to see how well their children are able to work on academic tasks independently and gives them the materials and documentation they may need to be able to advocate for their children should they need additional academic support.
Despite all of the listed benefits of homework, there are some students who struggle to complete homework assignments and who stay up late into the night trying to complete all of their work. If homework is not assigned in a thoughtful and meaningful way, it becomes nothing more than busywork. Instead of deepening students’ understanding of the material, it can make them feel overwhelmed and stifle their love of learning.
Teachers need to ensure that the homework they assign is meaningful. Before printing off worksheets, teachers should ask themselves the following questions: Is the work engaging? How will it deepen the students’ understanding of the material? Does it provide the students with choices? Are students able to complete this work independently? How much time will this assignment take to complete? If teachers find that the assignments are not engaging, or that they are too repetitive, they should rethink their activities. If the assignment will take an inordinate amount of time, teachers should break it up into more manageable pieces to be spread out over several days. A general rule for assigning homework is that students should not be assigned more than thirty minutes of homework per class each day. Teachers should strive to create short and engaging assignments that will allow students to gain confidence in their ability as they independently practice new skills.
Schools should also consider investing in after-school homework help. While students should be encouraged to complete assignments independently, there are some students who need additional support with their homework. After-school support can allow students to obtain individualized assistance from teachers and academic tutors. This time can be used to help students learn the material at their own pace with one-on-one support or in a small group setting. After-school tutors work with students on skills such as time management and organization. Homework help programs are also great resources for students who are able to complete the assignments independently but need the reassurance of knowing that there are adults nearby to offer help and guidance if they need it.
Homework can be extremely beneficial for students when it is assigned with care and schools and families work together to ensure that students are provided with the proper support needed to succeed.