Homework: What's The Point?

Homework...the dreaded word for so many parents and children.

Why do teachers assign it? Why do kids and parents usually dread it? 


* Please note: The comments in this post are my opinions solely. They are based on my experiences as a classroom teacher for over 20 years and being a mother of school aged children. There is no hard core research behind my findings, just real world experiences and observations that have influenced my opinions.

This is a blog post I have been mulling over in my mind for quite some time now. I have started and stopped writing my opinions about homework and the positives and negatives about children being assigned work to do at home. It's so controversial. What will people think? Well...no more! Here it goes!

As a parent and teacher, I believe homework should NEVER be assigned as "busy work" for children to complete. It needs to be meaningful and have purpose. The meaning and purpose need to be CLEARLY communicated to the students and parents. I also believe the homework process should NOT take up a large portion of the child's after school time.

I have a middle school aged child, who has 3-5 hours or more of homework every night! It's ridiculous! Then, I have an upper elementary aged child who has 20 minutes of homework a night. Sometimes he doesn't even have any! I think that is ridiculous as well! Finding a balance is difficult, but necessary.

I do, however, believe there are many useful reasons for children to have homework assigned to them. And for the most part, the positives outweigh the negatives.


Teaching children good study habits from a young age is key to their academic success. Providing a consistent, quiet learning environment is extremely helpful, but not always possible. Children also need to learn how to get their work done even when "life is happening around them." Sometimes this is easier said than done. 

My children always know the first thing they do when they come home from school is get their homework started. It is never a fight. They might get a snack to have while doing their work, but they know the work needs to get done before anything else. Now, don't get me wrong, there are days when sports practices or doctor's appointments prevent this from happening. BUT, whenever we get home, they know the homework needs to be completed. 

A consistent routine and expectations for homework help to lay the foundation for good study habits.

Children need to learn to complete tasks within a finite amount of time. This obviously changes with a child's age and school experience. But learning how to manage one's time is a daily life skill that needs to be mastered.

Homework helps students understand and learn these skills. When children have after school activities AND homework to complete, they need to manage their time correctly. This is not a skill they can learn on their own. They need the guidance and support of their parents and teachers to help them understand how to grow their time management skills.

In my classroom, I give my students a weekly homework packet which includes daily homework mini packets that need to be turned in each day. I explain to my students and parents, at the beginning of the school year, WHY I design homework this way. First, I don't want my students sitting down in one afternoon and completing a week's worth of work in one day. Second, I want to give them options if necessary. If on Wednesday, Alexa has dance class until 5:00pm, she can start that day's homework earlier in the week to help reduce Wednesday's work load.

Parents understand and appreciate the flexibility and help their child manage their time.

When my children were starting elementary school, I spent time helping them with their homework. As each year progressed, I did less and less. My husband and I let them struggle a bit. They learn to work through things that don't come to them quickly and easily.

Up until about 4th grade, we checked out kids homework each night. Let's be honest, after 4th grade things take longer to check and the concepts are WAY more complex. You just skim for completion and quality at this point.

If it was messy, they were told to redo the assignment. If they didn't put forth their best effort, we asked them how they thought they could improve. Then they fixed it. By doing this at an early age, both kids learned to work more independently. They were able to gauge what quality work should look like on their own. This carried over into the classroom and hopefully one day, to their jobs.

We have always told our kids, school is their job. It's the one thing they have to focus on and do well. It's their responsibility to themselves and to our family.

Completing a homework assignment, putting it into their backpack, and turning it in the next day to their teacher is CRUCIAL. It's not my responsibility or my husband's responsibility to put their homework in their backpack. It's the CHILD's responsibility!

As a teacher, I loathe the answer to "Where is your homework?" The answer is either "My mom/dad forgot to put it in my backpack" or "I left it at home." And my response is always, "Who's homework is it? Who's responsibility is it to turn it in?" They usually get the meaning of the message quickly.

Homework should be a time to review and practice skills taught in school. It should NOT be a time to learn new concepts they have never been exposed to.

Homework should also be a time when parents interact with what their child is learning in school. 

Look at what skills are being reviewed for homework. Is the homework connected to the standards? Did your child understand what was taught in class? Can you clarify any concepts for your child? 

If you notice your child struggling with their homework or specific skills, reach out to the teacher. If the homework is too easy or it is taking too long to complete, reach out to the teacher.

Homework time should be one of the indicators of how your child is doing in class when you are apart from one another.

Ask questions! Stay connected!

Looking for homework resources? Click the links below for a closer look.

             Spelling Resources


    A Year of Skills in Review: First to Second Grade AND Second to Third Grade


1 comment :

  1. I wanted to thank you for this great read about education. Your blog is one of the finest blog where i have found my QandA about education. Thanks for posting this informative article.