The Pros & Cons

“Homework”: The dreaded word sparking so much debate of late. While some feel it’s an essential way to reinforce school concepts, others feel it takes away from down time. So is homework a necessary variable, or should we rethink an archaic concept? As the mom of a Grade 1 learner, I constantly find myself torn: While my daughter is thriving academically, is the additional school work coming at the cost of building friendships at play dates, rebooting with a book or exploring her Lego. So in my search for answers, I ironically hit the books with some extra-curricular research of my own. Here are some of the top five pro’s and con’s I came across, in the great homework debate:

The Pros of homework

1. It encourages self-discipline and accountability

Repetition reinforces difficult concepts over and over again. While this istedious itdoes instil discipline.This prepares your child for a world that is competitive and requires stamina to succeed in.

2. Homework gets parent involved

Without touching base on her afternoon assignments, I would have very little understanding of what my child is actually learning about on any given day. In this way, homework creates a communication network between the school, your child and you.

3. Homework encourages management tools

Homework asks your child to create smart working habits with simple independent decisions. Little things like deciding where homework is done, whether the TV is on or off, if they have the right stationary for the task at hand and ensuring their homework book is signed, are all important management skills, which happen without a teacher breathing down their neck. Making your child accountable and self-reliant, which are an essential life lessons.

4. Homework encourages a relaxed place to learn

Desks and school bells are structured and formal in their own right. But homework encourages learning at home, in a place that is hopefully relaxing and familiar. This may make a subtle but important difference in how your child retains information, having an important effect on what gets consolidated.

5. Homework reduces screen time

While the wish is that less homework means more play time… often that’s not the case. Sometimesless homework is yet another opportunity to veg out in front of Netflix. In this way homework introduces some brain-time into the afternoon routine.

The cons of homework

1. Homework takes away from play

While learning is important, time on the playground with friends is just as crucial. It is in communal activities that kids learn about social hierarchies, connection and sharing. Add to this that homework is a static activity;at a desk in a fixed position. Where as kids need to be physical and active in order to lead well-balanced lifestyles.

2. It encourages pencil pushing

Schools need to be imaginative when it comes to homework. Worksheets and colouring-in are intellectual and can be uncreative. One needs to question whether these merely encourage pencil-pushing rather than entrepreneurial thinking.

3. Kids don’t need full time jobs

Primary school is a good five to six hours that kids are investing in their education on a daily basis. Add to that extra-murals and your child is easily pushing an eight-hour day of learning. That’s more than enough for now and isallot to ask of a child, especially a little one.

4. More work does not necessarily equal smarter kids

The web is full of conflicting studies about whether or not homework is actually beneficial to overall higher academic achievement. In fact it can often have the opposite result by creating a negative feeling towards learning.

5. Homework reduces creativity

If a child is spending on average an hour per day on homework that is one less hour they are spending on something that is actually is important to them. Kids should be using their afternoons to indulge in all the “what-I-want –to-be-when-I-grow-up” scenarios and homework fights with this time.

I’m not sure we will ever see a world where homework doesn’t exist, but maybe there is a way to re-think how homework is done and how much of it is necessary. Perhaps there are creative ways that use the home environment to reinforce learning in a way that is fun and natural to that setting. For example what if they are learning their 2 x table; the assignment could be to make sets of 2’s out of things found at home, then filming them counting them out and sending the clipto the teacher. I’m not a teacher, but I am a human, and that sounds a lot more interesting than yet another worksheet. At the end of the day, we just want our kids to be the best they can be so this shouldn’t be a tug of war, and I’m sure if teachers and parents put their heads together around content and quantity, there is a balanced middle ground that takes all that ‘work’ out of homework.

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