Homework And Parents

Any parent who has battled with a child over homework night after night has to wonder: Do those math worksheets and book reports really make a difference to a student’s long-term success?Or is homework just a headache—another distraction from family time and downtime, already diminished by the likes of music and dance lessons, sports practices, and part-time jobs?As noted above, findings on the homework-achievement connection at the elementary level are mixed.

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While correlation does not imply causality, extensive research has established that at the middle- and high-school levels, homework completion is strongly and positively associated with high achievement.

Very few studies have reported a negative correlation.

In addition, the authors point out that parents tend to be more involved in younger children’s math homework and more skilled in elementary-level than middle-school math. Cooper of Duke University, the leading researcher on homework, has examined decades of study on what we know about the relationship between homework and scholastic achievement.

In sum, the relationship between homework and academic achievement in the elementary-school years is not yet established, but eliminating homework at this level would do children and their families a huge disservice: we know that children’s learning beliefs have a powerful impact on their academic outcomes, and that through homework, parents and teachers can have a profound influence on the development of positive beliefs. He has proposed the “10-minute rule,” suggesting that daily homework be limited to 10 minutes per grade level.

Thus, a 1st grader would do 10 minutes each day and a 4th grader, 40 minutes.

The National Parent Teacher Association and the National Education Association both endorse this guideline, but it is not clear whether the recommended allotments include time for reading, which most teachers want children to do daily.Certainly, young children are still developing skills that enable them to focus on the material at hand and study efficiently.Teachers’ goals for their students are also quite different in elementary school as compared to secondary school.As the educational psychologist Lyn Corno wrote more than two decades ago, “homework is a complicated thing.” Most research on the homework-achievement connection is correlational, which precludes a definitive judgment on its academic benefits.Researchers rely on correlational research in this area of study given the difficulties of randomly assigning students to homework/no-homework conditions.Contrary to previous findings, researchers reported a stronger relationship between homework and achievement in the elementary grades than in middle school.As the study authors note, one explanation for this finding could be that in elementary school, teachers tend to assign more homework in math than in other subjects, while at the same time assigning shorter math tasks more frequently.Recent years have seen an increase in the amount of homework assigned to students in grades K–2, and critics point to research findings that, at the elementary-school level, homework does not appear to enhance children’s learning.Why, then, should we burden young children and their families with homework if there is no academic benefit to doing it?These findings suggest a causal relationship, but they are limited in scope.Within the body of correlational research, some studies report a positive homework-achievement connection, some a negative relationship, and yet others show no relationship at all. Researchers point to a number of possible factors, such as developmental issues related to how young children learn, different goals that teachers have for younger as compared to older students, and how researchers define homework.

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