Book reports, quizzes, worksheets, math assignments, and history lessons. These are the things that comprise our kids’ homework, right? But what if we are missing out on our own homework? The stuff that helps make sure that our kids can successfully work their ways through those assignments and study times.
How Do You View Homework?
If you are frustrated with the amount of homework your children get, their poor attitudes about doing it, the lack of clear instructions for assignments, or the fact that it means you can’t all go to the game on a Tuesday night because your kids have 2 hours of studying, consider how those feelings translate for your kids. If you place a positive attitude on homework, your kids as likely to assume that attitude just as readily as they will assume a negative one. We need to do our homework to make sure we can help our kids meet their full potentials. There are four basic types of homework, each with its own unique purpose.
Practice Homework – Just like it sounds, this type of homework is designed to help reinforce ideas and concepts and provide students with opportunities to master skills.
Preparation Homework – Most often used in classrooms with older students, this prep work involves preparing for future assignments. A teacher may ask students to read ahead so that they are prepared for the following day’s lecture.
Extension Homework – The purpose of this type of homework is to have students take the skills they already have and apply them to a new situation. Your child might be asked to write a report on the habitat of the grey wolf for Composition Class, when they have already written other reports on other topics.
Integration Homework – This type of homework requires that student apply more than one skill set to a situation. In Science students might be asked to research the migratory patterns of birds, write a report on it, and present that information to the class in a 2 minute speech. This incorporates scientific research, report writing, and public speaking.
Homework Begins at School
There is a debate around the country, and even the world, about the effectiveness of homework. Part of that effectiveness begins with how well we communicate with our kids and their schools.
- Get to know your kids’ school policies and teachers. When you better know the source of the homework and the intentions for it (not all schools and teachers view the role of homework the same), you can better guide your kids when they need it.
- Know if your teacher assigns homework as part of a plan to involve parents. Some homework is designed to bring parents and kids together: joint reading assignments, studying for spelling tests, etc. Other homework is designed as solo projects, with no outside assistance allowed.
- Cooperate with the plans your kids’ teachers have when it comes to homework. This not only helps the teachers more effectively do their jobs, but it teaches your kids the value you place on their academics, and emphasizes that school and home aren’t completely separate (learning occurs constantly).
- Pay attention to communication between teachers and home. If your school doesn’t have a plan for relaying expectations for students outside of the home, or the most involved you get is at conferences (when grades have already been earned), try to establish new lines of communication. Some schools post assignments, grades, and class rules online in parent portals. Work with your school to find ways to bridge the gap between the school walls and your doorstep.
- Talk with school administrators and teachers if you see negative homework issues. Once those students leave the building, school personnel often don’t know what happens beyond those walls. They might not fully realize the impacts of the current homework situations.
How Can You Help With Homework?
By help I don’t mean give hints for answers. Homework help from parents can come in many forms, and each child has unique needs.
- Understand your child’s learning styles so that you can help provide for the tools that will help the most.
- Don’t ask: Do you have any homework? Most often past about the 4th grade, kids have some type of work they can do, even if it means reading for 15 minutes. Instead, ask: What type of homework will you be doing tonight?
- Create a homework plan in your house. Designate specific times to work on homework, and make sure that you have the necessary tools (pencils, papers, computer, etc.).
- Learn about effective study methods, and work with both your children and their teachers to find ways to implement the best ones for your kids.
For most students and parents, homework is an inevitable part of life. Even for me as a homeschooling mom, homework is a daily event around here. My daughter takes classes at the local college, and our exchange student attends the public school. My other kids joke that all their work is homework. How we approach these learning opportunities and responsibilities really does make a difference, and prepares our kids for how to manage their careers and daily life responsibilities – just without the backpack.