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What is homework for?

 How Important Is Homework? What Is Homework? * Why Is Homework Important? * How Can Parents Get Involved?

Assigning homework serves various educational needs. It serves as an intellectual discipline, establishes study habits, eases time constraints on the amount of curricular material that can be covered in class, and supplements and reinforces work done in school. In addition, it fosters student initiative, independence, and responsibility and brings home and school closer together.

Homework is defined as out-of-class tasks assigned to students as an extension or elaboration of classroom work. There are three types of homework: practice, preparation, and extension.

Practice assignments reinforce newly acquired skills. For example, students who have just learned a new method of solving a mathematical problem should be given sample problems to complete on their own. Preparation assignments help students get ready for activities that will occur in the classroom. Students may, for example, be required to do background research on a topic to be discussed later in class. Extension assignments are frequently long-term continuing projects that parallel classwork. Students must apply previous learning to complete these assignments, which include science fair projects and term papers.

Research in the last decade has begun to focus on the relationship between homework and student achievement and has greatly strengthened the case for homework. Although there are mixed findings about whether homework actually increases students’ academic achievement, many teachers and parents agree that homework develops students’ initiative and responsibility and fulfills the expectations of students, parents, and the public. Studies generally have found homework assignments to be most helpful if they are carefully planned by the teachers and have direct meaning to students.

  • Share any concerns you may have regarding the amount or type homework assigned with your child’s teacher or principal.
  • Encourage your child to take notes concerning homework assignments in case questions arise later at home.
  • Provide a suitable study area and the necessary tools (for example, paper and books) to complete the homework assignments.
  • Limit after-school activities to allow time for both homework and family activities.
  • Monitor television viewing and establish a specific homework time.
  • Plan a homework schedule with your child. Allow for free time when assignments are completed.
  • Praise your child’s efforts. If questions arise about the assignments, and your child asks for help, ask him or her questions or work through an example rather than simply providing the answer.
  • Younger children need more parental assistance with homework than older children. Go over homework assignments with your child. Do several problems or questions together, then observe your child doing the next one or two.
  • If your child is in elementary school, check completed assignments. At all levels, ask to look at homework once it has been marked and returned.
  • Ask your child’s teachers about their homework policy and specific assignments.

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