Rita Hodges

Extension service

Homework is a concern of the entire family. Even the youngest of children going to school often have homework. Homework is an opportunity for children to learn and for families to be involved in their children’s’ education. However, helping children with homework isn’t always easy. When they meet with parents, teachers often hear questions such as:

• How can I get my child to do his homework? Every night it’s a struggle to get him to turn off the TV and do his homework.

• Why isn’t my child getting more homework?

• Why is my child getting so much homework?

• When is my child supposed to do homework? She is taking piano lessons, sings in the church choir, plays basketball and help with family chores. There isn’t time for homework.

• How can I help with math homework when I don’t understand it?

• Do homework assignments REALLY help a child to learn?

Teachers assign homework for many reasons. Homework can help their students:

• review and practice what they’ve covered in class;

• get ready for the next day’s class;

• learn to use resources, such as libraries, reference materials and web sites or find information about a subject;

• explore subjects more fully than classroom time permits;

• extend learning by applying skills students already have to new situations; and

• integrate students’ learning by applying many different skills to a single task, such as a book report or a science project.

Homework also can help students to develop good study habits and positive attitudes. It can:

• teach them to work independently; and

• encourage self-discipline and responsibility (assignments provide some children with their first chance to manage time and to meet deadlines).

In addition, homework can help create greater understanding between families and teachers and provide opportunities for increased communication. Monitoring homework keeps families informed about what their children are learning and about the policies and programs of the teacher and the school.

Homework helps your child do better in school when assignments are meaningful, are completed successfully and are returned to the child with constructive comments from the teacher. An assignment should have a specific purpose, come with clear instructions, be fairly well matched to a child’s abilities and help to develop a child’s knowledge and skills.

In the early grades, homework can help children develop the good study habits and positive attitudes described earlier. According to the U.S. Department of Education, from third through sixth grades, small amounts of homework, gradually increased each year, may support improved school achievement. In seventh grade and beyond, students who complete more homework score better on standardized tests and earn better grades, on average, than do students who do less homework. The difference in test scores and grades between students who do more homework and those who do less increases as students move up the grades.

The right amount of homework depends on the age and the skills of the child. National organizations of parents and teachers suggest that children in kindergarten through second grade can benefit from 10-20 minutes of homework each school day. In third through sixth grades, children can benefit from 30-60 minutes of homework per school day. In seventh through ninth grades, students can benefit from spending more time on homework, with the amount varying from night to night.

Amounts that vary from these guidelines are fine for some children and in some situations. For example, because reading at home is especially important for children, reading assignments might push required homework time a bit beyond amounts suggested here.

If you are concerned that your child has either too much or too little homework, talk with his or her teacher and learn about the homework policy for that teacher/school.

For more information, contact Rita M. Hodges, county extension agent for family and consumer sciences, 701 S. Interstate 35E, Suite 3, Waxahachie; call 972-825-5175; or email rmhodges@ag.tamu.edu.