Homework is an important and viable part of a child’s education. This becomes obvious when one considers all that schools are expected to provide students today. Evidently it has become the responsibility of the school to teach not only academics, but also to instill morals, values and work ethic in our students. Schools are expected to provide health care and even day care at times. This is all well and good, but it drastically reduces the amount of time that teachers have to teach academics. As a result, homework has become an increasingly important tool for schools, while at the same it has become an issue with many parents, as they feel it takes away from family time and fun time. It is as difficult situation to deal with.
When discussing a child’s education, it is important to remember that learning occurs both inside and outside of the classroom. We learn through life experiences, reading, listening, imitating, and a variety of other methods. In our public schools we expect most of the learning to occur within the classroom. This may not always be the case, and by this I mean that the teacher will guide the student in the learning process, but the actual learning may occur as the student works and explores on his or her own, and this may or may not be in the classroom.
In primary schools, it is often said that in grades PK through 3rd, students are taught to read, and from the third grade forward, students read to learn. A child who cannot read or who reads poorly will struggle in school. The best way to improve reading skills is to read. There is not enough time in the school day for any child to read enough to make a difference in his or her reading skills. Therefore, it is important that children read at home every day. It doesn’t matter what they read, as long as they read. Much of a child’s homework from grades PK through 3rd is reading. There may not be a lot of written work to be done at these grade levels, and this is by design. The focus is on reading.
Teachers rely on the help of parents and other family members to help ensure that these young students do their reading homework. It is very difficult to test a child on a reading assignment, other than to test for content, and at the lower levels the emphasis is not on content, it is on reading. Even though the assignment may be to read chapter 7 in a second grade science book, the teacher is looking for reading skills, not science skills. Science homework is more than likely actually reading homework. The assignment is designed to improve reading skills and to prepare the student for reading for learning later in their educational experience.
In the upper grades, homework becomes more academically specific. Students will have homework in math, science, social studies, etc. Assignments will become more time consuming and will require more research and effort. This helps to prepare students who are planning to continue their education after high school. At the elementary school level, it helps to prepare students for the more rigorous courses that they will be exposed to at the high school level.
When designed properly, homework assignments will help to ensure that a child is successful in the overall educational experience. No homework should ever be assigned without a true educational purpose. Homework is important at all levels in our schools and the support of parents and other family members is necessary to help ensure that students are successful not only with their homework assignment, but in their overall education endeavors as well.