Ask most children if they like homework and you would expect to get a firm “no” as the answer. Ask parents and you’re more likely to get a mixed response about it. Some schools have rebranded homework as home learning, either way, it’s the same thing. But what are the pros and cons of homework?
Firstly, before we get into the pros and cons of homework, I want to stress that I am not talking about revision for exams here. That’s a whole different ball game. However, it’s undeniable that the two have links and I will discuss that too.
Pros and Cons of Homework
It’s a well-established education concept that homework helps to galvanise what kids have learnt in class. Practising and revising what was learned in the classroom outside of school helps students to strengthen their knowledge
Develops a routine, time management and study skills
Routine and habit are often useful in life, not just school life. Developing a routine and habit around homework and home learning is a skill that will stand a child in good stead as they enter adulthood. If they go on to university, for example, the majority if learning is outside the lecture halls. One of the biggest challenges in life can be organisation and time management, therefore building these skills at an early age will be a huge advantage.
Engaging with studies
School, especially British secondary schools, can feel like very pressured environments. Even with a whole day spent at school, time in class is not always sufficient for kids to fully engage with a subject or topic. Homework allows time and space, with a fresh set of eyes and a clear head, to go over the topic and take in more knowledge. It goes without saying really that it also allows parents to get involved with topics and pass on their own knowledge when required.
Keeping track of progress
Teachers are able to make good judgements on a child’s understanding of a subject or topic from their homework. They can spot when a child is struggling or falling behinds classmates. Of course, submitting homework is also a lesson in responsibility and diligence. When it comes to parent-teacher meetings, homework can also be a good talking point.
Eats up time
School, especially secondary schools, differ hugely on homework policies. But, some schools set up to 3 hours worth of homework per night. This level of work leaves little or no time for downtime or extracurricular activities once travel and mealtimes are factored in. Having a life and activities, such as dance class or being in a sports team, outside school builds other skills that are often not taught in schools due to curriculum restrictions. Children need time to think about other things, de-stress from school life and spend time with their families.
Saps passion for learning
Homework can sap enthusiasm for learning after kids have spent the whole day at school and then have a stack of homework.
With school and extracurricular activities, sitting down to complete homework can seem like a huge task. This often leads kids to feel burnt out, even before reaching the critical latter years of school. Excessive homework can lead to students being deprived of adequate sleep which has serious implications.
Sometimes, to parents, homework that is set can seem to have little or no value to a child’s learning. Its also often tempting for parents to be a little too enthusiastic with their help and this lowers the value of the home learning too.
From our own personal perspective, homework is a huge pain in the ass! It’s well documented that our girls enjoy up to 10 hours each of dance and theatre school classes each week. This leaves little time for homework. Our girls’ primary school are aware of this and are a little more accepting of later submission – but we still try to get it all done.
Of course, there’s a hypocritical side of this from us too. Three of the girls actively take part in dance competitions (3 per year) and this requires practice at home. We are far more likely to push that practice than we are school homework. But this comes from the attitude of doing the things you love.
Could homework be a thing of the past if the school day were extended a little? Maybe an extra 30 to 45 minutes of free learning time would be a good alternative. Sadly, extending the school day would come at the detriment of dedicated, but already stretched, teachers.
I’d be keen to get your thoughts on this.
Thanks for reading