As your students file out of your classroom, you quickly shout, “Don’t forget to complete pages four and five tonight for homework!” You sigh wondering if that homework will get done. It’s the great debate, to assign or not assign homework, that is the question.
There are pros, cons and compromises in this debate, so let’s dive in.
Homework is a great home-to-school connection that allows parents to understand what their students are working on in class. It also serves as a way to have them involved and be part of the learning team. Homework after school helps foster time management of assignments and other things going on outside of school.
Students and parents already have full plates in the evenings. As educators, we don’t enjoy taking work home either. Rushing to sports practice and extracurriculars, parents and students are already stretched thin in the brief few hours between dismissal and bedtime. Should they really be spending this sacred time on homework?
There just are not enough hours in the school day. Giving homework means that students have extra time to practice skills, engage with content and independently demonstrate what they have learned beyond the constraints of the school day.
For struggling students, homework contributes to feelings of failure and frustration. Reversing the ways that students have incorrectly understood a topic put more on the teacher’s plate the following lesson. Additionally, we teach students differently than their parents do, so sending home math problems for example could result in students being taught a completely different method at home.
Consider making a weekly packet of a reasonable amount of work. Choose assignments that are meaningful and not just busy. Send the packet home on Monday to return it to school on Friday. Maybe set aside some time each morning for “Homework Club” and invite students to work on the packet as their morning warm up activity. This way if a student has outside school obligations, they can truly manage their time and complete the school assignments.
Dating back to 2012, there’s no current significant research that says there’s a positive correlation between homework completion and academic success. Given all the pros, cons and research, you still want to have students practice outside of the typical school day. You can meet in the middle and make homework doable for your students!
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