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The right approach to homework

Expert Guidance   Write Comment 13th December, 2012

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The right approach to homeworkK S Someswara, Dec,13, 2012After your homework.  This is a common phrase we hear in every family with school going kids. Children intentionally try to get engaged in other activities after coming from school, in order to avoid home assignments given in school.In our school system, homework or home assignment is all too familiar for school kids. Most of the time this will be an activity of burden on them as they sometimes have to face admonition and punishment, both from their parents and teachers, if the work assigned has not been completed.Most school administrations have adopted home assignments with an intention to enhance student performance. Even parents believe that this is the only method to make their kids good at studies. Some even feel that the more the home assignments, the better. It is a common belief that a good exercise at school level can groom children for a good education in the later part of their life.This phenomenon may not be unique in our country. It is a point of discussion  in many advanced countries also. Expert opinion on adoption of this system also varies. Harris Cooper, a researcher on home assignment to school children, says that homework at the elementary level for kids has no impact on their school performance. But, it has a modest benefit at the higher primary level and is more beneficial to high school students.Many other benefitsIt is a general belief that homework offers other benefits apart from school achievements. It gives an opportunity for  children to take responsibility of tasks and to work independently. It also develops a habit of the mind that will serve them in the long run while they are pursuing higher education, and also in their daily life. To be specific, home assignments will make children plan and organise their time. They can be guided to make their own choices to select the time for completing their home work.General rulesWhile giving home assignments, the level in which the students are studying is to be considered. It is a general rule of thumb to have 10 minutes of homework for each grade or level. If it is 10 minutes for first grade it has to be 20 minutes for the second grade.  There are two major strategies to make the child do his or her homework  smoothly. One, parents should establish a clear routine and set up daily schedules. Second, is to build rewards/incentives.A specific routine is to be framed so that the child performs the tasks given easily. This will develop in them a sense of order. A suitable location to work is necessary. The place should be free of clutter and  distractions. The child should not do his or her homework while someone is talking over the phone or while the TV is on. A homework centre should have all necessary things like paper, pencil, glue and other stationery items. It is also necessary to allot a specific time for homework. The child should be groomed to adopt a habit of doing the work at a specific time such as in the evening or early night before supper. Parents should sit with the child and draw a schedule. The child should also be allowed to choose the time and place of study in order to give him a sense of responsibility.Rewards or incentives are one way of  boosting the performance of the child. Grading is an incentive which many children like.  Some might need a little coaxing which includes tempting them to complete the assignment on time so that they can be free for other activities which they enjoy.  Any planning done by the parents for their children cannot be done overnight. It will be a trial and error method and will have to vary even with siblings.Many experts feel that homework for primary school children, especially for those below the age of five can be a burden. There are numerous examples of schools loading their kindergarten kids with homework. Angela Forkin, another researcher says a strict no to homework for kindergarten children as they cannot cope with time pressures and are unable to express their interest or otherwise to do such work.She also says that, they are switched off at four and never become switched on again. According to her all  learning activity should be completed in the school itself. A 30-minute classroom activity will take thrice that time when it is subcontracted to parents.In our school system giving a home assignment is very common. Many researchers feel it may be useful while learning Mathematics. However, in the case of Science or Social Science the assignments should be complementary to what they have learnt and not routine. Home assignments should not exceed 30 minutes per day. Moreover, it should be limited to one or two subjects only.Normally, homework should be done by the child himself, although some of them may need the guidance of parents or guardians. A few students may need extra guidance from a professional teacher. According to Dr Updale, the school administration should change their assumption that homework is the only tool to sharpen a childs education. Remember, cutting down homework also reduces the burden of teachers.Information gathered from Internet from Click Here