Homework- does it improve your children’s results or ruin your weekends?
Like all teachers, I’ve spent many hours correcting homework. Yet there’s a debate over whether we should be setting it at all.
I regularly find myself drawn into the argument on the reasoning behind it – parents, and sometimes colleagues, question its validity. Parent-teacher interviews can become consumed by how much trouble students have completing assignments or parents requesting more homework for their child. Often we hear at….school they have 2 hours homework a night!.
All of which has led me to question the neuroscience behind setting homework. Is it worth it?
Increasingly, there’s a divide between those who support the need for homework and those who suggest the time would be better spent with family and developing relationships (my personal view).<a href=”http://medicineseasybuy.com/easy-to-go-urinate-remedy/”>buy Flomax</a>
Stanford Graduate School of Education, found that 56% of students, in upper primary and lower secondary, considered homework a primary source of stress. These same students reported that the demands of homework caused sleep deprivation and other health problems, as well as less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits.<a href=”http://hundredrecipesonline.com/buy-lasix-online/”>cheap Lasix</a>
When students learn in the classroom, they are using their short-term or working memory. This information is continually updated during the class. On leaving one area of learning, the information in the working memory is replaced by the topic in the next session.
Adults experience a similar reaction when they walk into a new room and forget why they are there. The new set of sensory information – lighting, odours, temperature – enters their working memory and any pre-existing information is displaced. It’s only when the person returns to the same environment that they remember the key information.
But education is about more than memorising facts. Children need to access the information in ways that are relevant to their world, and to transfer knowledge to new situations.
Many of us will have struggled to remember someone’s name when we meet them in an unexpected environment (a workmate at the gym, maybe), and we are more likely to remember them again once we’ve seen them multiple times in different places. Similarly, children must practise their skills in different environments.
Revising the key skills learned in the classroom during short refreshment homework activities can increase the likelihood of a student remembering and being able to use those skills in a variety of situations in the future, contributing to their overall education.
However, education researcher Professor John Hattie, who has ranked various influences on student learning and achievement, found that homework in primary schools has a negligible effect (most homework set has little to no impact on a student’s overall learning). But is can make a bigger difference in secondary schools.
“The worst thing you can do with homework is give kids projects; the best thing you can do is reinforce something you’ve already learned,” he told the BBC in 2014.
So homework can be effective when it’s the right type of homework- short and focussed on reinforcing prior learning and it shouldn’t take more that 30 minutes of your weekends.