The Three Rs of Homework: Review, Reinforce, Reflect

writing-104091_640Has it begun for your kids yet?  Now that the school year is well and truly under way, are your kids facing minutes or mountains of homework?

Homework is such a divisive topic, both among parents and between parents and kids.  There are plenty of parents who are adamant that homework has no place in their family time, and they do not want their kids to come home with it.  Then there are those who just don’t want to have the Big Argument with their kids over getting homework done.

I heard a really persuasive argument recently, though, about the value of making homework an established part of your child’s at-home routine: a much greater chance of success at university.  Research shows that students who reach university without having had to do homework in the middle and high school years have a much higher failure rate in their first year classes.  Why?  Because those who had a firmly-established homework routine were much better equipped to manage their time once they reached university.

So, what is a successful homework routine?  Until the end of Grade 8, the suggested time spent on homework is about 10 minutes per grade level per day.  (10 minutes in Grade 1, 20 in grade 2, etc., and 70-90 minutes for the middle school years.)  Homework should never be busy-work and should always in some way help the student to reinforce what has been learned in the classroom and to review their knowledge so that it sticks.  Even if homework amounts to nothing more than pulling out the agenda to confirm that there is no homework, the student is still learning the habit of reflecting on his or her learning responsibilities.

And if there is no set task to do as homework?  Are they off the hook?  The guidance counsellors at my son’s school suggest that if there is no set task for homework, then that time should still be spent doing something that fits the category and promotes the discipline of homework.  Think of the three Rs and ensure that whatever you choose, it helps your child to review, reinforce or reflect on the school day.  The most obvious choice is to read for pleasure, but they also suggested

  • at-home art projects
  • journaling
  • reviewing class notes
  • organizing their binders
  • looking at their agendas to anticipate work that may be coming
  • practicing a skill
  • and even doing on-line brain training at sites like lumocity.

(In other words, conscious, active, and engaged participation in learning, not passive consumption of media.)

What works for your family?  Your kids?  Any tips to share to make homework more enjoyable?

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4 thoughts on “The Three Rs of Homework: Review, Reinforce, Reflect

  1. Homework is such a battle with my eldest who is in year 5 (in the UK). I try to sit down with him every Sunday to work out a homework plan for the coming week so he knows what to do each day. Normally we try to leave one or two days completely free for playdates and just chilling out. It’s still tricky though, and he’s easily distracted so often it takes him half an hour to do something which should only take 10 minutes tops. X

    • I know what you mean about the wonky planning for time. My guys often take muck longer at a task than I think they will. Somehow, I still have not finessed my ability to estimate how long something will take.

  2. We are trying to find a routine for homework… but our struggle is finding a consistent routine between afterschool activities. For example I would love to say 4 to 5 is homework hour to make it easy to stay in routine, but our after school activities (play dates, music lessons, chores & errands) aren’t at consistent time periods each day. We try ask our children to do their homework when their sibling is at an after school activity, which often works well. But both kids & adults in our family find its easy to forget homework in favor of other activities when its not at a set time. How does 4 mothers schedule this time?

    • There is no way we can do a set window of time, either, since all three boys have a full roster of after-school activities. But, we do eat dinner every day! So I try to tie it in to dinner time sometimes. I also take things along to activities. Mostly, the rule is no screen time on a weekend night until the homework is done, so that tends to be when the bulk of it gets done: weekend days, between other activities. Not optimal, but a good incentive to get it done so that they get a movie night.

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