When my oldest started school, she was enrolled in a school that was philosophically opposed to homework. This anti-homework idea was one of the reasons we chose that school. She has been enrolled at four different schools since then (because we moved a lot for a while) and each school hasn’t pushed much homework. And I’ve been very supportive of that idea – until now. Now, I have realized that there are good reasons for homework. These reasons are so good, in fact, that they are the three reasons why I now make my children do extra homework.
Reason 1: Children need to practice the skills and techniques they are exposed to in order to master them.
Any new skill requires multiple repetitions to grasp, and even more practice to use effectively. However, mastery of a skill requires so many more repetitions of that skill than can possibly be given during regular school hours. One of the purposes of education actually is to gain mastery of certain skills.
Reason 2: Homework teaches children to be responsible.
As we grow up, our jobs require us to meet deadlines and to complete projects. We must be responsible to show up to work on time and even do work that we might not find enjoyable. Homework teaches children how to do all this. Homework must be done by a deadline and be complete. Homework is something that must get done even if it’s not our favorite thing.
Reason 3: Homework in early grades helps develop discipline.
Homework helps children develop the discipline necessary to be able to complete the assignments and requirements of higher education. When students start out with 20 minutes of homework a night, they learn how to complete those 20 minutes. When that amount changes to 60 minutes of homework a night in upper elementary school, they then learn how to budget time and complete assignments efficiently. Thus, when students then have 12 to 15 hours of homework a night in college or university, they will already have the time management skills and study skills to manage that amount of homework.
I was a staunch supporter of the no-homework idea. I said to many people, many times, what adult brings home their work? But, I was very wrong. By denying our children the opportunity to have homework, we are actually denying them the opportunity to learn how to tackle difficult projects. We are denying them the opportunity to truly master the skills required to successfully manage life. We are ill preparing them for the rigors of higher education and the work force. In short, we are creating a situation where they are set up to fail once they have finished high school and real-world expectations come into play.
So, now I augment my children’s homework requirements on a year round basis. I don’t overload them, because children need to also have a childhood. But, each child has specific academic requirements they must complete regardless of the schoolwork they need to finish in the evening. Homework develops too many crucial skills to be left out of my children’s educational development or to take a break for the summer.