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THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Homework don’ts

Rhonda A. Blackman

THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Homework don’ts

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Say the word homework to children and most faces go gloomy, for it is a word some children dislike hearing.
Homework has created such interest on the part of the school, parents and wider community that books, magazines, the Internet as well as The Open Haversack are offering advice on it.
The term continues to be misunderstood by many parents who view it as work brought home from school. Put succinctly, homework is any schoolwork children do at home and it may not only be assigned by the teacher.
Teachers are coming under great pressure about it from parents, who claim, in some instances, that enough is not being given and, in other instances, too much is given. This leaves us to ask the question: how much is too much?
• When children are bogged down with work that they do not have time for anything else, then homework is too much. A child does not need an entire exercise testing the same concept – two or three are enough.
• When children’s social activities or activities that improve their overall development are interrupted, then homework becomes a problem. As a result, children may become overwhelmed, leading to negative attitudes to schoolwork.
• When family life becomes threatened, where there is limited “social intercourse” between parents and siblings, it is too much.
• When children are starved of rest as a result of having to work well into the wee hours of the morning trying to complete assignments, homework becomes an issue. There needs to be greater collaboration by teachers so that children do not have homework from every subject at the same time.
Parents must play their role in assisting children at home and not think it is the responsibility of the teacher alone to educate their children.
This can be facilitated when parents give children the experiences and provide the supportive study environment that would promote learning in the home and make homework interesting.
1. Find a quite area in the home for your child to do homework and provide the necessary tools for your child to work with.
2. Help your child develop a homework routine. Agree on a set time and rules for completing homework.
3. Communicate with the teacher so you know what the child is doing in class and how you can assist at home. Remember to assist, not do the work for the child. The teacher of your child knows his or her ability and can tell when the parent does the work.
4. Praise your child when he or she completes a given homework task.
5. When possible help make homework fun and a joy to do.
Do not be misled, homework is of great importance for it enhances academic learning and teaches children lifelong skills and attributes such as responsibility, independence and time management.
However, there must be a balance for we do not want to lose our children in this process. Children need a balanced life.
• Rhonda Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former President of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.