By Ilesha Graham
Homework has been a component of formal schooling in the United States for over 100 years. Prior to that, school-aged children were expected to tend to chores, homemaking, the farm, and family commitments in their evening hours. As school became more formalized at the beginning of the 1900’s, so did the idea of extending school curriculum into the home. Over the past century, the concept of homework has fallen in and out of favor about every 10 – 15 years. However with the current pressure created by No Child Left Behind, high stakes testing, rising academic standards and the national adoption of Common Core Standards, homework is likely to be a regular part of your child’s entire school career.
Homework can have positive benefits for young children beyond just improving schoolwork. It allows students to develop independence and a sense of responsibility. Homework can also help students to develop time management and study skills that will be of value long after they leave school.
As a school administrator, my analysis of school success consistently reveals that high student achievement and self-esteem are closely related to positive parental participation in education. One of the best ways that parents can participate in their child’s education is through assistance with nightly homework. Homework provides children with the additional practice that is needed to master a new skill or concept. It also increases the amount of learning time available to students to allow for a deeper level of understanding.
Homework assistance can have a beneficial effect on parents, as well. Homework gives parents an opportunity to be aware of the school curriculum and to express positive attitudes toward achievement. It also allows parents to stay informed on their child’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas of interest.
What is a reasonable amount of homework?
The amount of homework depends on the age and skill of the student. Generally speaking, an effective homework program increases about 10 minutes per night with each grade level. Children in kindergarten through second grade should average about 10 – 20 minutes of homework each night. In third through six grades, children receive maximum benefit with 30 – 60 minutes of nightly homework. Once children enter junior and senior high school, homework varies depending on their course load and academic program, though about 30 minutes per course is about average.
Nightly reading of high interest material is especially important for young children. A quality elementary homework program will include 15 – 30 minutes of nightly reading. Early readers receive maximum benefit from reading to someone and then answering questions about what they’ve just read (i.e. who, what, where and why questions about the text).
How can I help my child with homework?
A parent’s attitude towards homework can have a positive or negative impact on how their child views and values homework. Through involvement with their child’s homework, parents have an opportunity to express an appreciation for education and the value of school success. When parents get involved, communication between the school and family can improve. It can also accelerate a child’s learning.
Parents can best help their child by doing the following:
- Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework. Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions.
- Make sure the materials that your child needs, such as paper, pencils, and a dictionary, are available. Get materials for special projects in advance.
- Help your child with time management. Establish a set time each day for doing homework.
- Be positive about homework. Tell your child how important it is and show that you believe it is important by checking in, reviewing the work, and reading with your child.
- When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
- When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it. Cooperate with the teacher to show your child that school and home are a team.
- If your child is meant to do some work alone, stay away. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills.
- Stay informed. Talk frequently with your child’s teacher, especially if your child is struggling. Talk with your child about how he or she is feeling about homework and school, in general.
- Be aware of the teacher’s homework policy. Is homework graded or just checked off? Are students evaluated for accuracy or for attempting? Does the teacher allow for homework corrections? What is the policy for preparing and turning in homework? What are students expected to do when they don’t understand something?
- Reward progress in homework. If your child has been successful in homework completion, celebrate that success with a special event to reinforce the positive effort.
Ilesha “coco” Graham
Ilesha Graham, affectionately known as “coco”, is a writer, motivational speaker, trained educator & presenter and co-founder of Narrow Path Media Group, an organization developed to inspire, encourage and uplift others through music, workshops and multi-media presentations. Having lived through seasons of homelessness, single parenthood and public assistance, Ilesha knows first hand what it means to beat the odds and she has a desire to inspire and encourage other women to do the same, and more! Ilesha, and her husband, Filmore, a Christian hip hop artist, have 2 amazing daughters and are in the process of adopting their son from Jamaica. You can reach out to Ilesha at www.cocospeaks.net or email@example.com