Homework has its place within the education of our children. It is a way of allowing them to put what they have learned in a lesson into practice, to think for themselves and perhaps to find their own way of tackling, planning and addressing problems which they may have found hard in a lesson. Homework allows a child to take time, to ponder, work out and become proficient. It also allows a teacher to see not only if the children are able to use what they have been taught but perhaps whether they need to tweak lessons a little bit. For example, if all the students perform one task well and another one badly, it could be that the teaching needs to be a bit clearer or they need to take the method apart a bit more to alow students to really understand a problem or subject.
However, while homework certainly has its place, there is a fine line between allowing children to be able to put what they have learned into practrice and putting them under huge amounts of pressure by giving them too much homework. In the UK there are guidelines according to age group as to which subject should have homework each week and how long these tasks should take. They are only guidelines and some teachers give more or less. Some teachers maintain that for a young child, a lesson of an hour or more should be more than enough time on a subject per day and consider homework a sort of punishment. Some parents too feel that for younger children, their childhod at home is far more important than sitting doing homework.
Homework, however, can be fun and motivate a child to investigate. They can learn almost without realising it with certain subjects such as biology because many homwework exercises can involve getting dirty, looking for things, counting, noting and generally having fun whilst honing investigative and other skills.
Harm can come to children who are given too much homework so they spend little time being children or where there is too much pressure to aschieve high grades and they always fall just under what is expected. This is a sure way to damage children phsycologically and put them off study.
Some children like homework and enjoy seeing how they can apply things they learn in school but generally, children do see homework as extra work and many find it difficult. Homework should not damage your child but it can if it is too much, too hard and makes them feel they are underachieving. Ideally, homwework should re-enforce their learning at school and if they find it hard and you feel it is harming them, speak to the teacher.
One teacher I had at school had the balance of homework right. She would set homework very cleverly in that there was often no right answer. The task was usually to ask questions or investigate some aspect of the lesson and the next lesson would start by discussing our findings and comparing them. There was no right or wrong answer, no high or low marks and everyone could participate. At a parents’ evening, my mother commented that children seemed to enjoy homework she set and she simply said,’ well, if they do not enjoy homework, how will they ever study for their degrees?’ We were 6 years old at the time!