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Homework: Is it Really Necessary?

21st century ideas are taking over the debate
13 Mar 2016 – 4:04 PM EDT

Homework is a bit of a hot topic as of late. Educators and policy makers have been looking at all parts of the education system with a critical lens in order to develop best practices for our 21st century learners. Homework has been a common practice for as long as anyone can remember. However, there are studies out there that condemn the idea of homework for elementary-aged children. The case against homework is a popular topic right now and many educators are beginning to listen.

There has been a large movement surrounding play and play-based learning for young children. The idea is that children learn best through play and real world interactions. While instructional time is crucial, recess has taken on a more important role during the school day as studies find that children gain social skills central to their development during play. Furthermore, teachers are promoting movement in the classroom with stand-up desks and stationary bikes to allow for children to move while they learn. These 21st century ideas are leaving some very traditional classroom practices behind.

It's not a huge leap, than, to see homework undergoing a comprehensive review. Children go to school each day and work hard. They are learning new skills and practicing them all day long. Why then, would we ask that they go home and continue working on these skills into the evening? When adults go home at the end of the day, they certainly don't want to bring work home with them. Yet, we expect children as little as five to get back to work after a long day of learning.

So, what would happen if we remove homework as a standard practice in education today? Surely, traditionalists would have two major questions.

How Will I Know What is Happening at School?

While there is a need for a home and school connection, a newsletter identifying the weeks learning goals might do just as well. This way, parents can keep up with their child's curriculum without spending their already limited family time in frustrating homework battles, and we've all been there.

What if My Child Falls Behind?

Studies are showing that homework does little to benefit an elementary aged child's academic growth. If you do feel your child is struggling and you'd like to help, you could always request some activities from the teacher. Also, it's not a race. Children learn and grow at very different rates. (Don't even get me started on the problems with traditional grade placements.)

Whichever side of the fence you fall on in the debate for or against homework, there is no denying that this topic is an important one.

How do you feel about homework? Let us know in the comments.


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