Homework is part of student and family life, often much to the horror of parents!
While research shows both positive and negative effects of homework, your child will most likely still get homework. Parental involvement in homework is usually a strong indicator of student achievement (Cooper et al., 2001). At times however homework can cause a lot of tension for students and their parents.
The Benefits of Homework
Queensland Education (12) reviewed different studies and found that:
- “Homework can impact positively on retention and understanding of knowledge and can improve study skills, attitude toward school and demonstrate that learning can take place outside of formal schooling” (Corno, 2000).
- “Student writing scores, literacy outcomes and attitudes can improve when students engage in ‘interactive homework’ with family members” (Epstein et al., 1997).
- “Student’s attitude toward homework appears to be unrelated to student ability or family and community factors but positively related to parent’s attitude toward homework’’ (Cooper et al., 2001).
In contrast, other research evidence shows the limitation of homework and the negative impact it can have on students.
- Cooper (2001) found that “homework can contribute to boredom with school if it does not engage the student in meaningful learning’’. The author also found that homework can impact greatly on out of school activities such as sport.
- “Students from lower socio economic background are less likely to complete homework” (Cooper and Valentine, 2001).
So, as you can see, there is conflicting evidence on the benefits of homework.
It may be a controversial topic and the subject of much debate, but homework is a reality for many students and doing it is usually not an option.
The Psychological Impact of Homework
Too much homework for students can contribute to:
- Sleep issues;
- Weight loss;
- Stomach-ache etc.
Homework can also greatly increase:
- Family stress;
- Tension between parents and student;
Dawson (5) explains that “the younger the child, the less time a child should be expected to devote to homework’”. A general rule is that a child should spend 10 minutes of homework per day for each grade level.
The Office of Standards of Education (Ofsted UK, 1997) conducted a study to determine the best time allocations across year level. They found that:
- Years 1 and 2 should spend up to 12 minutes a day doing homework;
- Years 3 and 4 should spend up to 18 minutes a day doing homework;
- Years 5 and 6 should spend up to 30 minutes per day doing homework;
- Years 7 and 8 should spend between 45 and 90 minutes a day doing homework;
- Year 9 should spend between 60 and 120 minutes a day doing homework;
- Year 10 and 11 should spend up to 120 minutes per day doing homework.
Tips for Parents regarding Homework
- Put a routine in place. Have a schedule for each day or each week depending on your child’s age. Make sure that your child knows when they are expected to start their homework, and that this has been discussed with them. (Before or after afternoon tea? Before or after play time? Before or after bath time?). Some children also need to have an enjoyable or relaxing time before starting homework. This should be discussed and put in place with your child.
- Give your child space. Make sure your child can study in a quiet place, away from distraction such as siblings, TV, radio, music, social media, games etc.
- Plan ahead. Make sure that the workload is spread out through the week.
- Get organised. Your child should have everything they need for their homework, such as coloured pencils, pens, pencils, rubber, scissors etc. This will help to deal with frustration and avoid wasting time.
- Be in contact with your child’s teacher if they are struggling with homework or if you find it difficult to explain concepts to your child.
- Make sure that your child/teen doesn’t study for too long without breaks.
- Give appropriate rewards to your child/teen such as certificates, stickers, movie nights. Decide on possible rewards and consequences in order to create more motivation. You can for example look at having a point system in place, with a menu of rewards depending on the number of points collected by the child. The loss of privileges should also be discussed with your child.
- Having a homework contract can also be a useful thing to have in place (14).
- Letting your child/teen work all night is not the solution. Remember that children in primary school need nine to ten hours of sleep a night. If they only get eight hours they soon wind up sleep-deprived.
- Be available and ready to help and explain when necessary. This does not mean doing the homework yourself!
- Check in occasionally.
- Make kids proud of their efforts.
- Keep your calm. Your child may get frustrated with homework, but if you get upset it is only going to make things worse.
Remember to always praise your child/teenager for their work and efforts in completing their homework.
If your child or teenager is having difficulties at school, finds it difficult to get organised, or avoids their homework, feel free to book an appointment with me in order to discuss your concerns and how we can address the problem.
Author: Meggy Delaunay, PG Dip Psych Practice, PG Dip Dev Psych, M Genetic Psych, B Psych, MAPS.
Meggy Delaunay is a psychologist who primarily works with children, adolescents and young adults. She is a registered Psychologist in Australia, New Zealand and France, and can provide therapy sessions in English and French.
Here are some books, articles or websites that you may find useful.
- Cooper, H. (2001). Homework for all in moderation, Educational Leadership, 58(7), 34-39.
- Cooper, H., and Valentine, J.C. (2001). Using research to answer practical questions about homework, Educational Psychologist, 36(3), 143-153.
- Cooper, H., Civey Robinson, J. And Patall, E.A. (2006). Does homework improve academic achievement? : A synthesis of research. Review of educational research.
- Corno, L. (2000). Looking at homework differently, The elementary school journal, 100, 529-548.
- Dawson, P. Homework: A guide for parents. nasponline.org
- Epstein, J., Simon, B.S. and Salinas, K.C. (1997). Involving parents in homework in the middle grade. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.
- Galloway, M., Conner, J., and Pope, D. (2013). Motivation and social processes: non academic effects of homework in privileged, high-performing high-school. The journal of experimental education, 81(4), 490-510.
- Kohn, A. (2012). Homework: An unnecessary evil? psychologytoday.com
- Office of standards in education (Ofsted UK) (1997). Homework: Learning from practice, summary of findings from the Ofsted research study.
- Romain, T. And Verdick. E. (2005). How to do homework without throwing up. Free Spirit Publishing (for children aged 8 to 13 years old).
- Rosemond, J. (1990). Ending the homework hassle. Andrews McMeel Publishing.
- Homework literature review: Summary of key findings (2004). Queensland Government, Department of education and the arts. education.qld.gov.au
-Homework contract: http://printables.familyeducation.com/tv/printables/botr/botr_188_4-6.pdf
-Homework behaviour plan: http://printables.familyeducation.com/tv/printables/fe/pc/0,,14805-1239,00.pdf
-Homework completion chart: http://printables.familyeducation.com/tv/printables/HomeworkChart.pdf