Homework is an important part of every student’s life. While research is divided about whether homework actually improves a student’s academic progress, it is clear that homework comes with a lot of benefits that make it essential to the education and development of every student. Students often complain about homework because they do not understand its purpose. They find it difficult to motivate them to complete their homework because they are surrounded by a plethora of distractions that make homework look like an unpleasant and unnecessary chore in comparison.
Parents and teachers both struggle to motivate their children to complete their homework satisfactorily. In fact some students and parents are of the opinion that homework is unnecessary or that their children are assigned too much homework. To help dissipate their doubts, I will try to address some key questions that students and parents often have about homework.
Why is homework assigned to students and how does it benefit your children?
Teachers assign homework with a purpose. Each assignment is designed specifically to address a requirement or teach students a skill. Homework is not meaningless busy work that is used to punish students or keep them occupied and out of mischief.
- Daily homework is usually designed to help students revise and reinforce new concepts that they have just learnt in class. Homework of this kind helps consolidate difficult concepts as soon as they have been taught.
- Homework may also be preparatory in nature. Teachers sometimes assign students certain topics that they are asked to read up on before they come in to class. Students benefit from a certain amount of familiarity with a subject before it is taught as it helps them link new facts to things they may already have learnt in previous lessons. It also helps them understand the lesson faster since they are already familiar with some of the background.For example- an English teacher may ask her class to read up on Elizabethan Tragedy before she starts a lesson on Shakespeare or a Mathematics teacher may ask her students to brush up their Linear equations before she begins a lesson on Quadratic equations.
- Homework may also be research based. The ability to conduct independent research is a learned skill and certain homework assignments are designed to encourage students to inculcate such habits. They learn to use resources like the internet and libraries to access information. This teaches them to use dictionaries, encyclopaedias and other resource materials. It makes them independent and self reliant. They learn to help themselves before running to their parents or teachers for help.
- Teachers also assign homework to supplement class lessons. Education concepts extend beyond the scope of one chapter or one textbook. It isn’t always possible to go through an entire topic in class. Homework is essential for students to develop a holistic understanding of their subjects. In higher classes your children will have to study beyond the primary texts prescribed in the syllabus. So homework may also be assigned to encourage students to delve deeper into a subject and explore it freely outside the structured confines of the classroom. In fact this makes the subject more appealing and interesting to students.
- Homework is also assigned to teach students the practical applications of the concepts they have learnt in class. For instance you may learn a formula in your physics class along with a few sample problems that your teacher solves on the board. So you understand the concepts and the steps but you need homework in order to practice using these formulae to solve actual numerical problems.
- Practice assignments are designed to make students practice and master skills and concepts. It helps students become faster and more proficient in their subject of study. With subjects like maths, these assignments are no brainers. They are essential in order to drill complicated formulae and concepts into a student’s head.
- Homework exercises are designed to inculcate good work habits in young children. It teaches them to adopt healthy work attitudes and makes learning an enjoyable experience. These assignments encourage habits of independent study, research, accountability, time management, discipline and responsibility.
- Assignments allotted to pairs or groups are more than just homework. It is not a distraction that takes away from their studies. Group projects encourage students to participate and cooperate to achieve a common objective. It builds peer relationships and teaches them to learn from one another.
How is homework essential to the education process?
Homework is the point of intersection between school and home. It provides parents an opportunity to participate in and contribute to their children’s education. It gives them an idea of what their children are being taught at school and makes them aware of their ward’s progress. Parental cooperation is essential to motivate students to complete their homework. It is important for parents to express an interest in their child’s progress in order to encourage their achievements and guide them to appreciate the importance of their education. Homework provides a bridge that helps students to keep up the work they have been doing at school even at home. Students benefit a great deal from that kind of consistency. If you have trouble motivating your children to sit with their books try the tips mentioned in How to make your children take an interest in their studies.
Remember that schools prescribe homework based on the needs of their students and the dictates of their policies. School policies are formulated with a lot of thought and careful scientific consideration and teachers and administrators do not single out students to burden them with work.
Keeping all this in mind, encourage your children and work with their teachers to motivate them to complete their homework to the best of their abilities.