This can take many forms and is sometimes given a different name like ‘home learning’ or ‘Independent study’, but the concept of completing work outside of the classroom remains the same. Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success. Unlike parents and teachers, scholars are a step removed from the classroom and therefore have the luxury of pursuing potentially uncomfortable areas of investigation. Instead, they are more likely to ask, “How much time should students spend on homework?” or “Which strategies will succeed in improving homework completion rates?,” which is simply assumed to be desirable.
The nonacademic do my homework include fostering independence and responsibility. Finally, homework can involve parents in the school process, enhancing their appreciation of education, and allowing them to express positive attitudes toward the value of school success. As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework.
Reading Rockets is a national multimedia project that offers a wealth of research-based reading strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn how to read and read better. Our reading resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in helping struggling readers build fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills. Indeed, greatly reducing or eliminating homework would likely increase, not diminish, the achievement gap. As Harris M. Cooper has commented, those choosing to opt their children out of homework are operating from a place of advantage.
The third type of study correlates the amount of homework students say they complete with their achievement test scores. Again, these surveys show the relationship is influenced by the grade level of students. For students in primary grades, the correlation between time spent on homework and achievement is near zero.
Reducing or eliminating homework, though it may be desirable in some advantaged communities, would deprive poorer children of a crucial and empowering learning experience. It would also eradicate a fertile opportunity to help close the achievement gap. The subject matter shows no consistent relationship to the value of homework. It appears that shorter and more frequent assignments may be more effective than longer but fewer assignments. Assignments that involve review and preparation are more effective than homework that focuses only on material covered in class on the day of the assignments.
However, it is much more productive to do homework in the form of self-guided work towards which you’re oriented and encouraged, than assessed by your instructor. Under “oriented” and “encouraged”, it is meant to be enough supported to do this work successfully. But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict. Is so much homework given to students that it interferes with other interests that students enjoy?
At times homework is given to reinforce concepts introduced in class, to ensure understanding on the part of the student, and as a tool for the teacher to determine the level of understanding in his or her classroom. Homework assignments may be given to introduce students to concepts or materials that will be presented in class the following day, “front loading” as it is sometimes referred to. Then there is the homework assignment that extends and incorporates multiple concepts that have been taught in the classroom over a longer period of time and brings them together in a cohesive package, such as a research report or oral presentations. It has become a word that is fraught with anxiety, concern, and debate.
Instead, parents of higher achievers built three social networks to support their children’s learning. They designated “anchor” helpers both inside and outside the family who provided assistance; identified peer models for their children to emulate; and enlisted the assistance of extended kin to guide their children’s educational socialization. In a related vein, a recent analysis of survey data showed that Asian and Latino 5th graders, relative to native-born peers, were more likely to turn to siblings than parents for homework help.
These supports help foster the development of self-regulation, which is critical to school success. It can prepare children to confront ever-more-complex tasks, develop resilience in the face of difficulty, and learn to embrace rather than shy away from challenge. In short, homework is a key vehicle through which we can help shape children into mature learners. School hours are not always enough time for students to really understand core concepts, and homework can counter the effects of time shortages, benefiting students in the long run, even if they can’t see it in the moment.