Tips for Parents
By U.S. Department of Education
can have many benefits for young children. It can improve remembering
and understanding of schoolwork. Homework can help students develop
study skills that will be of value even after they leave school.
It can teach them that learning takes place anywhere, not just in
the classroom. Homework can benefit children in more general ways
as well. It can foster positive character traits such as independence
and responsibility. Homework can teach children how to manage time.
if not properly assigned and monitored, can also have negative effects
on children. Educators and parents worry that students will grow
bored if they are required to spend too much time on schoolwork.
Homework can prevent children from taking part in leisure-time and
community activities that also teach important life skills. Homework
can lead to undesirable character traits if it promotes cheating,
either through the copying of assignments or help with homework
that goes beyond tutoring.
issue for educators and parents is not which list of effects, the
positive or negative, is correct. To a degree, both are. It is the
job of parents and educators to maximize the benefit of homework
and minimize the costs.
It Enough Homework?
most critical question about homework is "How much homework
should students do?" Experts agree that the amount of homework
should depend on the age and skills of the student. Many national
groups of teachers and parents, including the National Parent Teacher
Association (PTA), suggest that homework for children in kindergarten
through second grade is most effective when it does not exceed 10-20
minutes each day. In third through sixth grade, children can benefit
from 30-60 minutes of homework per day. Junior high and high school
students can benefit from more time on homework, and the amount
may vary from night to night.
at home is especially important for young children. High-interest
reading assignments might push the time on homework a bit beyond
the minutes suggested above.
recommendations are consistent with the conclusions reached by many
studies on the effectiveness of homework. For young children, research
shows that shorter and more frequent assignments may be more effective
than longer but fewer assignments. This is because young children
have short spans of attention and need to feel they have successfully
completed a task.
assignments typically have one or more purposes. The most common
purpose is to have students practice material already presented
in class. Practice homework is meant to reinforce learning and help
the student master specific skills. Preparation homework introduces
material that will be presented in future lessons. These assignments
aim to help students learn new material better when it is covered
in class. Extension homework asks students to apply skills they
already have to new situations. Integration homework requires the
student to apply many different skills to a single task, such as
book reports, science projects or creative writing.
particular, math homework has been shown to be more important in
the middle to high school grades and less important in the elementary
grades. It starts to become important in the fourth grade and is
increasingly important in the upper grades.
Parents Can Help with Homework
also shows that parent involvement can have either a positive or
negative impact on the value of homework. Parent involvement can
be used to speed up a child's learning. Homework can involve parents
in the school process. It can enhance parents' appreciation of education.
It can give them an opportunity to express positive attitudes about
the value of success in school.
parent involvement may also interfere with learning. For example,
parents can confuse children if the teaching techniques they use
differ from those used in the classroom. Parent involvement in homework
can turn into parent interference if parents complete tasks that
the child is capable of completing alone.
mothers and fathers get involved with their children's homework,
communication between the school and family can improve. It can
clarify for parents what is expected of students. It can give parents
a firsthand idea of what students are learning and how well their
child is doing in school.
shows that if a child is having difficulty with homework, parents
should become involved by paying close attention. They should expect
more requests from teachers for their help. If a child is doing
well in school, parents should consider shifting their efforts to
providing support for their child's own choices about how to do
homework. Parents should avoid interfering in the independent completion
this brief introduction suggests, homework can be an effective way
for students to improve their learning and for parents to communicate
their appreciation of schooling. Because a great many things influence
the impact of homework achievement, expectations for homework's
effects, especially in the earlier grades, must be realistic.
policies and practices should give teachers and parents the flexibility
to take into account the unique needs and circumstances of their
students. That way, they can maximize the positive effects of homework
and minimize the negative ones.
Homework Tips for Parents
sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework.
Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in
places with other distractions, such as people coming and going.
sure the materials your child needs, such as paper, pencils and
a dictionary, are available. Ask your child if special materials
will be needed for some projects and get them in advance.
your child with time management. Establish a set time each day for
doing homework. Don't let your child leave homework until just before
bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working
on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together
positive about homework. Tell your child how important school is.
The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your
your child does homework, you do homework. Show your child that
the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an
adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is
doing math, balance your checkbook.
your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers. Giving
answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help
teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will
do the work for him or her.
the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it. Cooperate
with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are
a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.
homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away. Too
much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive
effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent,
lifelong learning skills.
informed. Talk with your child's teacher. Make sure you know the
purpose of homework and what your child's class rules are.
your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.
Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be
most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will
seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.
your child for signs of failure and frustration. Let your child
take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on
progress in homework.
If your child has been successful in homework completion and is
working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g.,
pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency
Affairs, Educational Partnerships and Family Involvement Unit, Homework
Tips for Parents, Washington, D.C., 2003.