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Homework: Useful or Useless?

Homework is a notorious hot-button issue for parents and children. It tends to bring out the worst in everyone—particularly when kids are reluctant to put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard), which is often the case for kids with learning disabilities and ADHD.

Understandably so. By the time they get home from school, kids with learning differences have often expended every drop of energy available getting through that day’s classwork; the notion of having to do more reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic after hours is as appealing as walking on hot coals.

Asking your child to grind it out for a couple more hours is worthwhile only if the effort contributes in some way to his success in school. In The Trouble With Homework, recently published in The New York Times, Annie Murphy Paul suggests that’s rarely the case:

The quantity of students’ homework is a lot less important than its quality. And evidence suggests that as of now, homework isn’t making the grade. Although surveys show that the amount of time our children spend on homework has risen over the last three decades, American students are mired in the middle of international academic rankings: 17th in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, according to results from the Program for International Student Assessment released last December.

In a 2008 survey, one-third of parents polled rated the quality of their children’s homework assignments as fair or poor, and 4 in 10 said they believed that some or a great deal of homework was busywork. A new study, coming in the Economics of Education Review, reports that homework in science, English and history has “little to no impact” on student test scores. (The authors did note a positive effect for math homework.) Enriching children’s classroom learning requires making homework not shorter or longer, but smarter.

The article goes on to suggest a number of ways to improve the quality of homework assignments.

What do you think about the quantity and quality of your child’s homework? Enter your comments below.

One Response to “Homework: Useful or Useless?”

  1. Julie Says:

    I am against home work, other than review of math facts, spelling words, and test preperation. My son has ADHD and I am seriously questioning if he does not also have Dislexia. We are at the table until 10 pm every night of the week. I must honestly admit I often have to complete his homework for him just so he can go to bed at 10pm, I tend to stay up until 11 to finish it for him. Children need time to run and play and be kids! When they come home they need to spend time with their families! The stress levels put on these children are so high most adults would buckle. My son is 10, and the math he does in school is the level I was taught in highschool. The rush these kids through school without stopping to teach the basic fundamentals.

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