Opinion

EDITORIAL: Weighing homework

The carefree days of summer are at an end, and with the return to school comes the dreaded homework.

What is homework and how much should a child get each day? These are common questions, and are difficult to answer because teachers and parents often differ on homework and its purpose.

Surveys have found many parents are worried that homework eats into family time, and getting kids to do it is stressful. Although some parents appreciate the structure homework provides, others think it gets in the way of sports and other activities, and delays bedtime.

Teachers don’t agree on the value of homework, either. Some educators view it as a way to extend learning; others see it as important for mastering skills like math or a new language; and yet others think it’s a waste of time. How much homework is sent home entirely depends on the teacher as there are no policies on homework at the district or provincial level.

There is, however, a growing consensus that homework shouldn’t be just busy work, but should help children make connections and deepen their understanding of classroom lessons.

Many teachers are moving towards project-based learning, in which students come up with a project of inquiry, such as analysing the value of a local stream. This would be a case where homework is useful as students get to work on a project of their own choosing.

There are many resources for parents but it’s not always obvious where to go and what to do about this topic. Learn Now BC (www.learnnowbc.ca/services/homeworkhelp.aspx) is one such resource.

But most parents will have to use their best judgment when it comes to homework. If they think the quantity appears to outweigh the quality, it may be time to make a phone call.

– Black Press

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