I have always hated homework. Seriously, it was the word-that-shall-not-be-named, as far as I was concerned. As a kid, I hated that I spent all day in school just to go home and continue the madness. Once my daughter started school, I hated forcing it on my her and repeating “do your homework”. After becoming a teacher, my hate grew even more…homework was such a task each day to give out, keep track of, assign and grade. I remember writing homework assignments on the board that included various workbook pages and reading assignments from different textbooks. I mean, seriously, why would any teacher expect a child to do all that work after working all day. We don’t go home from work each day wanting to do more work….am I right?
So, why have homework at all, you might be wondering?! Well, believe it or not, homework can actually be a positive and important tool in a child’s education, if done correctly. That’s right…I flipped the script. You see, I used to hate homework, but now I feel the complete opposite.
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A few important things about giving effective homework.
- The rule “Quality over Quantity” should always be considered when assigning homework…Less is more.
- This is so true when it comes to homework. More is not better….it’s just MORE. If a child is exhausted and hates what they are doing, what are you really accomplishing?
- It can be a valuable tool for keeping parents informed and involved.
- When I send home homework, not only are my students getting a few minutes to put their knowledge to the test, but their parents now have the opportunity to see how their child is doing, and what they are learning in class and expected to know. It’s a win, win, win.
- It can help teachers make informed decisions and help guide instruction.
- When I see a student struggling with a skill from their homework, I know I have some reteaching to do. Class time is so limited and already stretched to the max, so I don’t have as much time as I would like to see if each and every student understands what I’ve taught each day. Homework is the perfect way to see if a student “gets it”, and it didn’t take any class time.
- It can help build student confidence and skill retention.
- Because I use a mostly-review style homework (I’ll get into that in a bit), students who didn’t get to master a skill in class while it was being taught, will be given the opportunity to continue to practice that same skill on their nightly homework. In my experience, I have seen my students’ self-confidence boost! They may not master the skill on the first, second, or third night, but eventually, they do. Homework gives them the opportunity to keep practicing and feel success at their own pace.
Here is a quick reference guide of “Do’s and Don’ts.
The Homework Solution
Years ago, I created a homework system for my students that would do all of the above and more. Simple…Thoughtful…Effective. That’s what I was going for. I wrote about 6-8 problems per night. I made sure most of them reviewed the topics I had already FULLY covered in class, while also including at least one question on the topic we were currently learning. My philosophy here is I didn’t want my students to spend time incorrectly practicing something they haven’t fully learned. When students practice a skill incorrectly, more time is required to reteach and break the bad habit. This is very different from traditional homework which typically drills the skill learned that day with little review. With this traditional way, students and parents are likely to become frustrated, and as a result, the homework loses its effectiveness.
More Benefits of This Homework…
1. Students retain skills longer due to its repetitive nature.
2. Daily practice helps students sharpen their skills.
3. Students are more likely to do their work because it really doesn’t take that long.
4. Parents like the predictability.
5. Parents can see exactly what their child needs to know.
6. Builds students’ self-esteem because they are more likely to be successful.
7. SAVE Paper!
8. Easy to differentiate (editable) so that I can change-up the difficulty of questions as needed.