You expect your child to have homework. You expect it to be a hassle. You expect that you will have to remind your child to get it done. You might even expect that you are going to have to nag your child to get it finished on time. You expect homework to be a hassle, for both you and your child.
And that is not only unfortunate, it is sad, very sad. Let’s be clear. There is absolutely no research that says that kids who do loads of homework are better students.
There is research that shows that kids who do a little homework can still do well in school. In Norway, it is illegal to give kids homework. No one gets homework and on tests of ability and learning Norwegian kids do better than kids from any other country.
Go figure! But homework, for good or bad, is part of the North American (and the UK) experience. Your child will be given work to do at home, each evening, while school is in session.
Homework is the number one thing that stresses parents – and kids – and cause more arguments and family disruption than anything else related to schooling.
So let’s look at how to avoid the hassle while making sure kids get the support they need. Let’s assume that the homework your child has been given will help him or her practice what has been taught in class or provide them with the motivation to learn new things.
Amount of Time Spent on Homework
Let’s look at the amount of time children should, or could, be spending doing homework. The rule of thumb – the basic guideline that someone has set – says that kids should be doing ten minutes of homework for each grade level.
A child in grade one should not be spending more than 10 minutes doing homework that is set by the school, a child in Grade 3 – 30 minutes, in Grade 7 just over an hour.
That might not seem like a lot of time to spend on homework but, done right, it is more than enough. (I have known parents of six-year-olds spend two hours a night doing homework with their child – and then wonder why their child is not doing well in school!.
Here is what homework should look like
Grades 1 – 3 – either no homework or a few simple fun exercises that can be done quickly and easily. Grades 4 – 8 – up to an hour working on revision exercises or fun project work. Grades 9 and up – only now would I agree that students can benefit from doing extra work at home.
These kids have to get through so much information that they have to do extra work after school. (I will explain more on how to make that homework useful in a later article) So, if your young child has no homework what can you do? Read. Read to your child, read with your child, let your child read to you.
Strategies that you can use at home
So, if your young child has no homework what can you do? Read,Read to your child, read with your child, let your child read to you.
This is the most important way you can help your child develop the skills he or she needs to become a good learner. When you share a book with a young child you are doing so much more than helping him or her learn to read.
You are working on your relationship, sharing ideas, developing vocabulary, showing your child how to look, discussing stories, talking about likes and dislikes.
You are helping your child make sense of their world. Practice writing letters, do a few sums, fill in a few blanks on worksheets – but only for a few minutes! Then, put the work away and read with your child. You can do that for longer than the suggested 10 minutes per grade. You can share books with your child for as long as you are both interested and amused.
Keep homework time short – very short. Reading and together time can be long – and much more beneficial for your child’s progress. Start today. Don’t make your child work longer than he or she should be working. Don’t worry about not getting homework finished – I will tell you what to do about that in another article. Stop the homework hassle and start helping your child develop the skills he or she needs to make sense of the world.
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