An expert's opinion: kids should have less homework.
The issue regarding homework is a long standing debate not just by parents but also by students of all ages. Let’s make a start by looking at the arguments for and against homework.
Supporting arguments for homework.
- One of the main supporting arguments for homework is that it encourages students of all ages and abilities to take on responsibility for their own learning. This sense of responsibility can start as young as 5/6 when children are encouraged to take home their reading book every day (and remember to bring it back to school) and continues by stages until the student has grasped the skills needed for independent research skills.
- Homework also serves the purpose of providing reinforcement about concepts and ideas covered within class.
- Homework can also help with some background preparation for the next lesson. This usually takes the form of background reading.
Supporting arguments against homework.
- Homework needs to be relevant to the needs and the ability of the child. It has to be based on aspects of learning that has been covered in the classroom. Taking an example of 'spelling lists ', they should be arranged so they take into consideration the diversity of ability and need (as in class topics and curriculum).
- Homework should serve a purpose and not just be set because it is a requirement. If a student cannot see the reason behind the homework task then the tutor has isolated the most able of students form the subject area.
- Some students have too much homework and they are staying up too late at night to try to complete it. Staying up late to complete the work results in poor performance in class the following day.
Supporting arguments to reduce homework.
- Time – make sure that homework can be completed with a time that is suitable for the age of the child (8 year olds should not be spending 2 hours a night on homework).
- Schools need to have an overall view of the amount and frequency of homework that is set at any level and in any subject. Consideration should also be given to timing of handing in homework – it needs to be staggered.
- Many students attend groups or classes to learn new skills after school. Many of these classes build on innate talent such as drama or music. Schools need to be aware that the child is still learning whilst not actually doing homework.
What would be really helpful?
- Acknowledge the skills that are learned through homework.
- Acknowledge the discipline that is needed for independent learning.
- Acknowledge that time spent doing homework is valuable.