Changing Homework for the Better

While homework seems to be playing a more elaborate role in the lives of many students, it is not necessarily getting any more effective at helping students improve their academic performance. With the exception of reading with children in primary school, there has been no significant positive correlation between homework and academic achievement in younger students. When students reach secondary school, a moderate amount of homework has been shown to improve grades, but it should not exceed 120 minutes per night (10 minutes per night, per grade). Unfortunately, many teachers are assigning too much homework due to school policies and mistaken notions of effectiveness.

First of all, homework should generally fall under one of three categories, as outlined by author Alfie Kohn: “It should help prepare students for an upcoming topic, give them practice in a newly learned skill or allow for individualized application through research or an independent study” (read an article about it here: http://bit.ly/cKm1nv). In other words, homework should be applicable to current classroom topics and is encouraged to be active and engaging.

Second of all, homework should be differentiated. Considering that all students are on different levels in the classroom, their work should correspond to that; meaning students who are ahead of the class should have more challenging homework, while students who need extra support should receive more practice or homework that will help them grasp the concepts better. If you find that your child is struggling to complete homework every night, talk to his or her teacher and communicate your concerns.

As we have already mentioned, it is important not to overload students with homework. If your child is in grade 9 and spends upwards of three hours per night on homework, then it may be too much. Homework should be engaging and appropriate for your child’s level. If you have questions or concerns about the amount of homework your child is assigned, you should ask a teacher to see the school’s current homework policy.

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