13 November 2008 09:17 AM

The Dreaded Homework (Part 2)

by Dr. Rick

Continuing from Tuesday, here are some simple, common-sense rules that are also borne out by research.


  1. There’s nothing wrong with practice. Ask any athlete or performer. How does Michael Phelps become the best swimmer in the world? He practices untold numbers of hours daily. Practice of relevant skills, tied to the goals and content of the classroom, is key to student achievement. Mastery requires practice, plenty of it, over an extended period of time. Do we have the patience it takes to be successful? Or are we “addicted” to speed in all aspects of our lives?
  2. It’s good to establish good study and learning habits. An often overlooked purpose for homework is that it can give students the time and experience to establish the habits that will serve them for a lifetime. Perseverance. Discipline.  Habits of the mind. Characteristics that we may not talk about much any more but are every bit as vital today as they ever were. Maybe more. 
  3. Teachers must pull their weight. Once again, research bears out what common sense tells us. Know what the research suggests? Homework that teachers check and comment on quickly gets done with more regularity and with more effect on learning than homework that isn’t checked. Having rewards and consequences works. Assigning the right amount of homework is important. When I was a new teacher, we learned a simple rule about homework: about ten minutes per grade.  First graders get ten minutes, second graders get twenty, and so on. After all the research and practice in the many intervening years, it’s still a pretty good rule of thumb. Don’t forget about students’ individual learning styles and maturity; students learn in different ways and at different speeds. Maybe one assignment for all students isn’t smart. And finally, teachers need to communicate their homework policies clearly to students in class and to parents at conferences, on the school’s website, and in their own web pages.
  4. Parents have a role. Do your child’s homework and you’ll only feel used, and your child won’t learn anything, except maybe that you’re convenient to have around the house after all. That’s not helpful. Instead, your role as parent is to support the teacher’s homework policy and to ensure that there’s a homework routine that everyone follows. Routines are important to children, especially routines that support schoolwork and show that your family values learning.  Your child should have not only a time but a place to study, with all the materials in an easily accessed place – paper, notebooks, highlighters, pencils, rulers, etc.
  5. Students are the most important player in the homework games. Some homework is the simple memorizing of basic rules that we simply must know.  Some helps students increase their speed. Some deepens their understanding.  Some prepares them for future learning. What’s wrong with any of those? Just do your homework.

I'd love to find out if you have any other guidelines you follow for homework. If you have a few, please share them in a comment!


For the original part of this post, click here.




Add comment


  • Comment
  • Preview

Blog Posting Rules

This blog is for the good of education - for students, for teachers and for parents. I very much value a two-way communication with you and welcome and encourage your comments and feedback. However, to facilitate a constructive conversation that is beneficial to everyone in this online community, I expect the same respect in your comments that I present in my blog.

Read the full Dr. Rick Blog Posting Rules.