Are students not working hard enough or is homework not working for them? Here's where the story gets a little tricky: It depends on whom you ask and what research you're looking at. As Cathy Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework , points out, "Homework has generated enough research so that a study can be found to support almost any position, as long as conflicting studies are ignored.
In other words, it's hard to tease out how homework is really affecting test scores and grades. Did one teacher give better homework than another? Was one teacher more effective in the classroom? Do certain students test better or just try harder? Putting research aside, however, much of the current debate over homework is focused less on how homework affects academic achievement and more on time.
Parents in particular have been saying that the amount of time children spend in school, especially with afterschool programs, combined with the amount of homework given — as early as kindergarten — is leaving students with little time to run around, eat dinner with their families, or even get enough sleep.
Certainly, for some parents, homework is a way to stay connected to their children's learning. But for others, homework creates a tug-of-war between parents and children, says Liz Goodenough, M. Interview siblings. Instead, as the authors of The Case Against Homework write, "Homework overload is turning many of us into the types of parents we never wanted to be: nags, bribers, and taskmasters. Leslie Butchko saw it happen a few years ago when her son started sixth grade in the Santa Monica-Malibu Calif.
United School District. She remembers him getting two to four hours of homework a night, plus weekend and vacation projects. He was overwhelmed and struggled to finish assignments, especially on nights when he also had an extracurricular activity. And then, with all of their attention focused on Bobby's homework, she and her husband started sending their youngest to his room so that Bobby could focus.
Butchko joined forces with another mother who was having similar struggles and ultimately helped get the homework policy in her district changed, limiting homework on weekends and holidays, setting time guidelines for daily homework, and broadening the definition of homework to include projects and studying for tests. As she told the school board at one meeting when the policy was first being discussed, "In closing, I just want to say that I had more free time at Harvard Law School than my son has in middle school, and that is not in the best interests of our children.
One barrier that Butchko had to overcome initially was convincing many teachers and parents that more homework doesn't necessarily equal rigor. Stephanie Conklin, Ed. As Timothy Jarman, Ed. That's because, writes Vatterott, in her chapter, "The Cult ure of Homework," the concept of homework "has become so engrained in U. Most teachers and administrators aren't saying, 'It may be useful to do this particular project at home,'" he writes.
This is what I had to do when I was young," she says, and so, too, will our kids. And this year, in addition to forming a parent advisory group around the issue, she also holds events to answer questions. Still, not everyone is convinced that homework as a given is a bad thing. That our culture finds it okay for kids to spend hours a day in a sport but not equal time on academics is part of the problem," wrote one pro-homework parent on the blog for the documentary Race to Nowhere , which looks at the stress American students are under.
It is now and it was 20 years ago. I think when people decide to have children that it is their responsibility to educate them," wrote another. And part of educating them, some believe, is helping them develop skills they will eventually need in adulthood.
Department of Education website called Homework Tips for Parents. Homework can teach children how to manage time. Annie Brown, Ed. The problem with this thinking, writes Vatterott, is that homework becomes a way to practice being a worker. Slate magazine editor Emily Bazelon, in a piece about homework, says this makes no sense for younger kids. Kohn writes in the American School Board Journal that this "premature exposure" to practices like homework and sit-and-listen lessons and tests "are clearly a bad match for younger children and of questionable value at any age.
According to a recent University of Michigan study, daily homework for six- to eight-year-olds increased on average from about 8 minutes in to 22 minutes in A review of research by Duke University Professor Harris Cooper found that for elementary school students, "the average correlation between time spent on homework and achievement … hovered around zero. So should homework be eliminated? Of course not, say many Ed School graduates who are teaching.
Not only would students not have time for essays and long projects, but also teachers would not be able to get all students to grade level or to cover critical material, says Brett Pangburn, Ed. Still, he says, homework has to be relevant. Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks, and she supports efforts to eliminate homework for younger kids. The issue has been debated for decades.
The ensuing pressure to be competitive on a global scale, plus the increasingly demanding college admissions process, fueled the practice of assigning homework. Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned. If you take too much, they can kill you. Write to Katie Reilly at Katie. Reilly time. Education Is Homework Good for Kids? Here's What the Research Says. By Katie Reilly. Get The Brief. Sign up to receive the top stories you need to know right now.
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