HOMEWORK – A VEXATIOUS ISSUE

The issue of homework is eons old. This papers considers pro’s and cons along with the purpose and function of homework. While set in terms of the Northern Territory environment, there would be parallels to and in other locations.

PROS AND CONS OF HOMEWORK

Homework is an issue that continues to do the educational rounds. Some educators believe in homework while others would like to discount it altogether. Similarly, some parents appreciate homework while others would like it to be abolished. Those in favour of homework believe it reinforces and consolidates learning through extra practice at home. Opposition to homework comes from those who think ‘enough is enough’; that beyond the school day, children should be freed from learning tasks.

Some parents and commentators suggest that homework is the teacher’s way of handing their responsibilities to parents. Homework should never be offered as a substitute for teaching. Lessons taught at school can however, be consolidated and reinforced through follow-up tasks completed at home. Homework can be a link between home and school, in helping to keep parents informed of what their children are learning and how they are progressing.

It is important that parents know assignments are set for children, rather than believing tasks are set for them to complete on behalf of children.

Primary students

For primary aged children reading, spelling list words and practicing their tables at home, reinforces basic learning needs. Rote methodology is a part of learning and homework set around basics, helps ingrain key understandings.

A comments sheet which can be signed off and commented upon by both parent and teacher, may be attached to these tasks. This simple communication helps keep parents aware of children’s academic development. Progress charts kept by some teachers remind students of their accomplishments. Homework should have relevance and meaning to children and parents. It must be more than busy work set by teachers.

Homework might ask for the completion of a research project or construction task. Requirements ought not be so complex or time consuming that parental intervention is needed to complete the exercise. Homework is for children, not an assignment for parents. Homework tasks set for students should be acknowledged, marked and outcomes recorded. If that doesn’t happen, children lose interest.

In some primary schools, outside school hours care programs offer homework support for attending children. This may include supervised after hours access to the school library. The City of Darwin Council also makes its library facilities available to children for homework support purposes.

The establishment of homework habits for younger students stands them in good stead for their later years of secondary and tertiary education. It builds within them confidence and independence, together with the knowledge that study at home is part of their educational contract. It can also be one way of parents keeping in touch with the learning and progress of their children.

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