Homework is one of the most debatable concepts in academics. There are various arguments regarding the relevance and importance of homework to children. For proponents of homework, students benefit tremendously through completion of homework activities, and their parents also get the opportunity to interact with the children, get in contact with what they learn and understand how best to support them in education. On the other hand, opponents of homework argue that homework not only subjects students to unnecessary stress post school hours but also foster academic laziness through constant parental assistance and copying. In the present study, the benefits of homework on children’s education are explored extensively based on various past literatures. The objective of the paper is to confirm that homework indeed has a lot of benefits on students, and can help in building some essential skills such as responsibility, self esteem and time management among others.
Benefits of Homework on Students
According to Fuglei (par. 2-4), homework has significant benefits to the students and to the parents. For the parents who assist their children in completing homework, the activity provides an opportunity to interact with the students and the content of the homework. This subsequently allows those parents to understand the learning process and content and to provide additional support to their children. Parents never get the opportunity to experience classroom teaching with their children. For this reasons, they are mostly oblivious of what the children learn or at the most have only a slight awareness of the concepts taught in school. By engaging their children during homework, parents can learn the concepts that the children are taught in school. They also develop the capacity to use the same approaches used by the teachers in disseminating information and hence help their children without confusing them. For such parents, engagement in homework also fosters an understanding of the children’s strengths and weaknesses and development of strategies through which those weaknesses can be addressed and the strengths enhanced (Fuglei par. 5). In this way, homework provides the student with an opportunity to learn from different people and to have a reinforcement of the lessons learnt from the teacher through parental guidance.
While interacting with the students during homework, the parents also have an opportunity to be models of moral behavior to their children (Fuglei par. 6). In the contemporary society, children spend most of their in school and with their teachers. Parents spend limited time with their children, leaving all the moral upbringing to the teachers. At the same time, teachers are limited on the disciplinary measures they can subject children to in case of immoral behaviors. In some cases, parents fail to notice behavior changes in their children due to the limited times they spend together. By the time parents realize their children’s misbehavior, they are most likely to be too far into immorality to be easily rehabilitated. Some are also influenced into negative behaviors without the realization of their parents. Through participation in children’s homework therefore, parents have the opportunity to monitor their children’s behaviors, communication patterns and changes more closely. Through this closer scrutiny, patients are in a better position to guide their children through constant discussions, observations and rehabilitation where there is need.
Besides opening up opportunities for parents to understand their children’s academic content, homework also fosters the development of various skills and capabilities in students. It has been reported that students who consistently complete their homework develop essential skills such as responsibility, time management, perseverance and self-esteem (Carr 172). Responsibility in homework completion arises from student ability to complete assigned work under minimal supervision. For most parents, supervising the children’s homework is considered a mundane task in which all that needs to be done is to provide instructions and slight guidance to the students. This means that the students mostly attend to their homework independently, creating the impression of responsibility. Another factor that can be described as a feature of responsibility in homework completion is the capacity to perform well without cheating. Consistency in homework participation results in the development of key skills that help to sustain responsibility through adulthood.
Students who complete their homework more consistently also develop time management skills. Completing homework requires effective skills in time management. According to Fuglei (par. 4) individuals who participate actively and have a positive attitude towards homework are more likely to develop time management skills compared to others who may be unwilling to engage in homework activities. The ability to monitor oneself through the homework is an indication of time segmentation capabilities. Responsibility and time management are essential skills that are needed in all professions, hence any activity that boosts student’s skills in the two is considered beneficial. It is in reference to this argument that homework is considered beneficial to the children.
Reilly mentions other benefits of homework including building self-esteem (par. 3). Any activity whose completion comes with a feeling of relief has the potential of building confidence as well as building physical activity and mental strength. Therefore, engagement in homework activities results in confidence building, which is a key attribute of self-esteem boosting exercises. Perseverance also improves due to engagement in homework activities. Homework comes with attributes such as challenging problem solutions requirement, and the need for exertion of extra personal time and abilities in homework demands (Carr 161). The fact that homework is compulsory also makes it all the more perseverance driving. Students have to put in extra effort and to go beyond their conventional capabilities to complete homework requirements, thereby findings effective approaches to handle different situations. The nature of homework is also such that it is mentally demanding. This implies that students have to be able to sacrifice the time and resources they would spend in other activities in order to effectively complete the work at hand.
Other scholars have explored various attributes of homework and how they contribute to benefits to the students. For instance Carr (180) explored the benefits of homework completing to students through a consideration of features such as the implications of pre-learning, confirmation of concept comprehension, an opportunity for practicing learned concepts and information processing capacity building among others. The role of homework in these areas is however determined by whether the homework is characterized by a formative assessment or a summative assessment (Minke 6). Homework that allows students to prelearn concepts is that in which they are requested to think about concepts that are yet to be presented in class. The benefit of pre-learning is that students, who get to think about key concepts in a subject prior to the teacher’s exposure, can better think about the answers and how they impact future learning capabilities. Students are better able to understand concepts that they have been exposed to previously either through their homework or through their own independent quest for knowledge.
According to Minke homework is the most useful way for teachers to check the comprehension of students. In the classroom setting, teachers are accessible for students who need help (5). Students also have their peers to consult in case of any comprehension challenges. This therefore means that the level of access to help in the classroom does not enable the teachers to exactly predict what the level of learning is among students. Through homework, teachers give students the opportunity to check their own understanding of course concepts with minimal help. The teachers can then plan for student progress based on areas of challenge relative to others, making the learning process effectively individualized. Additionally, homework provides an opportunity for students to practice many of the skills taught in class (Minke 8). A perfect example of these skills is the rote skills used in memorization of various concepts. While the teacher may teach the students the basics about such skills and their implementation, a more effective approach is through a process that fosters the building of those skills and also enhances the teacher’s capacity to check for understanding.
Learning targets are used to guide the learning process in the classroom setting and beyond. The only way learning targets are set is through collaboration between teachers and their students. In most cases, homework helps to determine whether learning outcomes are accomplished. Formative assessments issued every day help in monitoring progress towards learning outcomes based on specific concepts as taught in the classroom. The second type of homework assessment, summative assessment, is given cumulatively at the end of a specific period of learning to gauge the student’s understanding of the core features of that learning period. Formative assessments provide information that teachers need to make adjustments to the learning process and teaching methods. Students can be flexible to changes in teaching methods following a confirmation of their learning needs and individual challenges in the learning process.
Other potential benefits associated with homework are described by Minke (15) including long term academic benefits such as better study skills, establishment of consistency in study habits, improved attitude towards school as a result of the support received from teachers and parents, enhanced self direction and discipline due to the need to perform well in homework with little to no supervision, heightened inquisitiveness as students get to know their areas of shortcoming, and independent problem solving skill building. Additionally, students get parental and family benefits through aspects such as increased appreciation of schooling by parents, and the awareness of the connection between school and home. Parental involvement also helps in demonstrating the parental interest in the children’s education, thereby increasing the value that the children place on education. Each of these benefits are however linked to the methods of homework assignment and their contributions to student’s growth and the teacher’s attitudes.
In spite of the many benefits associated with homework, opponents of homework provide their own arguments as to why students are not to be given any homework in schools. One of the most profound counter arguments is that of satiation. According to a study conducted by Minke (16), homework can result in the occurrence of satiation among students whereby students develop loss of interest in educational materials as a result of physical and emotional fatigue that arises from the school context. However, this argument can be countered through the exploration of different concepts. For instance, the school learning environment is regulated such that students spend only a given maximum of time in the classroom and have room for breaks and recreation. Such an environment controls the potential for students to be satiated in the schools. While working on homework, there are teacher guidelines that explain how teachers are to regulate the amount of homework issued to students based on their ages. An example of such rules is the 10 minute rule described by Weir (36), which posits that any homework given to students should take a maximum of 10 minutes to complete. In any cases where teachers adhere to the requirements for both in-school teaching and homework levels, there should be no issues with satiation. As such, this argument can be refuted as a function of teacher competence and capabilities.
Secondly, opponents of homework argue that homework denies students of access to extra-curricular activities both in school and out of school. The argument here is that the time taken to complete homework should be used in extracurricular activities outside school. This however can also be refuted through the same argument that giving students the right amount of homework for their age enables them to practice and check their learning, and to still have a lot of time for extra-curricular activities (Carr 171). In the school setting on the other hand, gives students time within the daily school program to deviate from the classroom setting to where they can work on their extracurricular studies. One of the probable reasons for the argument about lack of time for extracurricular activities is probably the tendency of teachers to maximize their time in class while minimizing the time students take in extracurricular activities. This behavior deviates from standard educational best practices.
Another commonly mentioned is that homework results in the confusion of instructional techniques. In the school setting, students are taught using teacher specific methods to learning. When doing homework, most students get the assistance of their family members, who may have different instructional methods from those used by the teachers. In such a case, the students are subjected to diverse opinions which not only confuse the students but also have the capacity to impact negatively on the learning process. This third argument forms the justification for common requests for parents not to use different instructional approaches on their children relative to those of teachers. To a large extent, confusion of instructional methods only comes when parents are unwilling to listen to their children during homework and to use the methods learnt from the students (teacher methods) in instructing them. Carr (172) suggests that for the effectiveness of homework to be realized by all students, teachers have to use best practice approaches such as
The dilemma as to whether homework is beneficial to students, has been in the social arena for ages. While there are many benefits associated with homework, some negative implications have also been mentioned in the homework discussion. The benefits of homework include enhanced parent engagement, opportunities for checking the learning process and outcomes, gauging the competency of the students in different learning areas and various academic benefits. On the other hand, the negative impacts of homework as mentioned include satiation, confusion of instructional methods and reduction of extracurricular activity participation among students. Each of these arguments against homework can be refuted through the use of teaching bets practices on homework assignment and in-class lesson scheduling.
Carr, Nicole Schrat. “Increasing the effectiveness of homework for all learners in the inclusive classroom.” School Community Journal, vol. 23, no. 1, 2013, pp. 169-182. www.adi.org/journal/2013ss/CarrSpring2013.pdf. Accessed 24 November 2018.
Fuglei, Monica. “The homework debate: how homework benefits students.” Room 241, 6 April, 2018. education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/the-homework-debate-benefits-of-homework/. Accessed 23 November 2018.
Minke, Tammi A. “Types of homework and their effects on student achievement.” Culminating Projects in teacher Development, vol. 24, 2017. repository.stcloudstate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1030&context=ed_etds. Accessed 23 November 2018.
Reilly, Katie. “Is homework good for kids? Here’s what research says.” Time Magazine, 30 August 2016. time.com/4466390/homework-debate-research/. Accessed 24 November 2018.
Weir, Kirsten. “Is homework a necessary evil?” American Psychological Association, vol. 47, no. 3, 2016, pp. 36. www.apa.org/monitor/2016/03/homework.aspx. Accessed 23 November 2018.