What Is the Purpose of Homework?

Do you remember homework being such an emotional, contentious, overwhelming sphere of life? If I had a dollar for every parent who has described nightly meltdowns, fights, drawn-out evenings of homework and school projects, I could retire to Barbados.

What’s with the homework these days?

· 15-year-olds spending 3-7 hours of nightly homework
· 12-year-olds crying at night because their teacher gives an F if the homework is not done completely
· 7-year-olds with over an hour of homework
· 10-year-olds told to study without proper knowledge of study skills
· Parents spending hours monitoring, guiding, and even teaching or re-teaching concepts

This is beyond ridiculous. Until high school, children should not be doing homework except for ONE purpose: to practice skills that they already comprehend to an adequate degree. Homework should NOT be for any of the following:

-Learning concepts
-Busy work
-Studying for tests without having a study guide that explains exactly how and what to study
-Tasks requiring more than a few minutes of parental involvement (exceptions are interviewing parents, quizzing, or playing a fun game)

Anytime homework time becomes contentious, one of several problems is occurring:

1. The teacher has not properly taught the material and expects the child to complete the learning process at home, presumably with parental involvement.
2. The child has not paid proper attention in the classroom and therefore did not complete in-class work.
3. The teacher believes that learning should continue after school and believes homework should foster this learning (hey, THEY work after school, why shouldn’t the kids?).
4. The child is stuck in a dependent relationship with parents, who have not trained the child to complete schoolwork independently.

All of these represent a serious misunderstanding of child development and learning theory. If this situation describes you, look for my next post, which will describe the keys to homework and what parents can do if they and their child are stuck in Homework Hell.

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