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Should Homeschoolers Get Homework?

One of the many questions that homeschoolers have about their curriculum is how much emphasis should be placed on homework. Homework is typically defined as the assignments and tasks that must be completed outside of the homeschooling hours. 

For years, teachers and researches have always assumed that homework creates a more disciplined mind. Homework was instituted in the early 1900’s under the idea that the United States needed a more rigorous educational system. The United States’ head of education feared that Russia would surpass the country in educational achievement if homework did not become a part of the teacher’s curriculum. Since that time teachers, researchers, and parents have all argued for and against the concept of homework.

In February 2009, a fifth grade boy issued a manifesto against homework. The eleven year old, Ben Berrafato, challenged everyone’s beliefs that children need to have homework. The boy argued that homework was akin to slavery, which was abolished in the thirteenth amendment and admonished law makers to create legislation that would ban homework for good. While his attempts to create the legislation failed, it furthered the argument of children and researchers who believe homework has a negative effect on children.

“Therefore, we think it would not be imprudent, based on the evidence in hand, to conclude that doing homework causes improved academic achievement.”

The real question is — how extensive should a child’s learning activities be beyond the school day? A study in 2006 linked the achievement of students to the amount of homework they received, and argued that it was imprudent for students not to have homework beyond their schooling hours because of the increased achievement students experienced when they had homework. A prior 2004 study that was conducted by the BBC in Great Britain claimed that the pressure of homework caused friction between the parents and children resulting in more arguments and upsets in the home. To remedy this issue, the city of London proposed developing Homework Clubs in which children could finish their additional assignments directly after teaching sessions. Whether or not homework causes mental or emotional exhaustion is still not completely proved and it is up to the parent to judge how well or badly their child is adapting to any additional tasks and assignments that are given.

The amount of time a student should spend on homework is a contentious issue. Most would argue that it isn’t about the amount of time that an individual spends on homework that really counts, rather it is the amount of information that they are able to glean and retain from the homework they have. For this reason, homeschool teachers should focus on giving out assignments and tasks that are both meaningful and memorable to their children. These are the types of assignments that will make the significant impact needed for the future success of the child.

It is also important that homeschool teachers remember that homework should have a well articulated purpose and it should be designed in a way that a child has no problem working on it independently.

The key to the right balance in homework is to ensure that the assignments are not intruding on other vital home and social activities. Having a balance that allows the child to deepen their knowledge and still maintain proficiency and freedom in other activities is the key to forming a well-rounded mind. A homeschooling parent has a large obligation to ensure they are making the right decision for their child with the homework that they do or do not assign.