The great homework debate - good idea or waste of time?

Is homework essential for developing good study habits and reinforcing classroom learning?

The homework debate: Children who are managing at school find homework repetitive and children who are struggling at school find it reinforces the fact that they are struggling. Photograph: iStockphoto

The homework debate: Children who are managing at school find homework repetitive and children who are struggling at school find it reinforces the fact that they are struggling. Photograph: iStockphoto

 

Is homework essential for developing good study habits and reinforcing classroom learning? Or is it a waste of time and an educational turn-off?

One thing that’s certain is that homework causes a lot of grief in many households. And when US “homework guru” Harris Cooper of Duke University said “there is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic performance of elementary (aged 4-11) students”, parents might well wonder why they’re battling with their primary school children over it.

“Children who are managing at school find it repetitive and children who are struggling at school find it reinforces the fact that they are struggling,” says Áine Lynch, chief executive of the National Parents’ Council (NPC) – Primary. “You then start to wonder about the purpose.”

There’s no doubt about the importance of the home-learning environment for children’s education but battling over homework makes that a very negative place, she says. However, it’s too simplistic to suggest that all homework is “bad”, it depends on what it is.

“When we talk about homework, we talk about this thing that is not defined,” says Lynch. Homework reteaching something that was done in the class that day is one kind of homework. If you are talking about homework where children go home and put Irish name labels on things around the house, that’s a completely different thing.

“One of the things that homework does do when it’s working well is that it gives that home-school link and makes parents aware of what children are doing,” she says.

What do you think? Parents, teachers and children are being invited to have their say on homework in an online survey being conducted by the National Parents Council - Primary.

It is on the website npc.ie will close at midnight on May 22nd.

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