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For decades, I would say perhaps even centuries, educators have questioned the relevancy of homework: how much, at work grades, in what format, to what end? There is once again a new urgency among educators to better understand the merit and overall goal of homework. Why now? I believe teachers, administrators, and parents are once again discussing homework’s place in the daily routine of school age children because the daily routine of many children rival some adults. Children are being asked to take on more activities while also being asked to spend hours of their afternoon and evening with homework. We all know this is not good for children so we have begun to ask ourselves what gives? Which after school activities are best and important for school age children and how much homework is enough to keep them actively engaged in the learning process?
For the record, I believe homework as a tool to reinforce classroom instruction is extremely useful. However, I believe there are many ways to achieve the reinforcement of classroom instruction at home that do not involve pencil and paper. For very young children, I believe homework can be as simple as looking for patterns while helping mom or dad set the dinner table. I especially love the idea that homework is sharing a good story with mom and dad from a picture book or one created in class by students. For older students, assessing one’s knowledge of classroom content might be achieved through a project-based assignment or a written report. No matter the age group, I think it is important to make sure homework:
Ultimately, I believe homework does not have to be a dirty word. We simply have to make sure we are using it in ways that truly maximize and promote student learning. tlb