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Homework! Remember how hearing that word would make you feel at the end of your school day? Today it seems that fewer and fewer children are hearing that word. Many school districts are beginning to limit or even eliminate this one time nightly ritual . This is certainly becoming a trend in education and regardless of the reasons behind the trend, as a parent you should ask yourself  how important homework is to your child's learning.

In an effort to emphasize how crucial some extra work at home is, a distinction should be made between homework and studying.  There is a difference between the two and it is very important that, as a parent, you understand this difference.    

A Definition of Homework

During the course of a regular school day some students, for any number of reasons, are unable to complete the various lessons and the work associated with those lessons. I would venture to say it makes complete sense that if a student does not finish their work in school then they would complete it that night at home. Although this is a very simple definition of  the word, it is an effective one. Simply finish the work not completed at school at home that night. That's not too complicated and it's not too much to ask of any student. If anything, it keeps them from falling behind the rest of the class. 


Now we have to look at studying and what that really is. Many students and parents do not make a distinction between studying and homework. They may have the same connotation but they are very different. In fact, one is more important than the other. For teachers I would say that many think homework is more important. However, I believe that studying is much more important. Studying is when students go over the work  they have completed in school. Two important things happen when students study: 1) it helps reinforce the concepts taught at school and 2) it helps put that information into their long term memory. 

Homework is Specific

When teachers assign homework it is most often related to a specific lesson or work done at school that day. The amount of homework really depends on the amount of work the student did not finish at school. Keeping in mind that students work at different speeds and function at different levels, the teacher has to consider the abilities of his/her students when assigning work to complete at home. Fairness does play a roll. Many students are involved in extra-curricular activities such a sports, music, dance and many, many other activities. Teachers have to remember that school is only a part of a student's life, although it is an important part. Also parents have to play a role in the education of their children and they should be aware of what their child is doing at school so they can monitor what has to be completed at home.

Studying is General

Studying is something that teachers should encourage their students to do every night. Students should be asked to go over lessons and concepts they have been working on. How much time should a student should spend studying is a very important question for parents and students alike. Any number of factors can come into play when deciding the amount of time your child should study each night and it will be different for everyone. Some students are able to understand the material taught in school more easily than others and in turn may not have to "study" as much at home. On the other hand, those students who struggle with school work may have to spend a little more time studying the material at home. Regardless, students should do some studying at home each night. My personal viewpoint is that 60 minutes a night should take care of both homework and studying, but again, it depends on the amount of work that has to be completed for the next day versus the time a student wants to put toward studying.

How to Approach Homework and Studying

Most parents view these two activities as one and the same but hopefully you will now look at them differently. If you have children in elementary school there are two important things you should be doing. The first is to be there to help with homework, if necessary. Be sure to communicate regularly with your child's teachers so you know what they are working on and how they are doing with comprehension. If they are having difficulties you can plan with their teacher on what steps to take to help your child. Second, help them study. Ask them questions, make a small quiz or have them read aloud and explain what they have read. There are many ways you can help your child study. When a parent shows an interest the child usually shows more interest. The most important thing you can do for your child is to take an active role in their education which includes homework and studying. Take the time to help your child.

Mother Helping
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