Monday, March 21, 2016

Getting Kids To Do Their Home Work

Welcome to The Cherry On Top.

We are continuing on the subject of homework from last week, where we wrote about IEP's and how they can help, professionally diagnosed students limit homework and adjust in class work if necessary.  

We'll share some research we've found about homework and tackle those homework issues you may have at home.

There has been a lot of research done on the effectiveness of homework.  In a nutshell, homework for elementary aged students provides very little educational gains on average.  The numbers are out there along with numerous reports on this.  As an educator, it saddens me that some educational experts are not taking this in.

My oldest son comes home, every single day with homework and has been since he's 6 years old.  This makes him extremely bitter towards school, which already is a terrible situation.  The shouting matches and tears were just one part of it.  As you may also experience in your autistic or ADHD kids, it can take ages to do one small assignment.

The kids are finally home after a long day of sitting behind a desk and now they have to sit behind the table and do even more work, despite their success and attainment of that knowledge in the class.  My youngest brings home mostly busy work and he also loathes homework.

I found a useful report on this study at Educational Leadership where they gave a synopsis of gathered information.  To put it simply, the older the child, the more gains they get by doing homework.  Although, those gains were still relatively minimal.  We are just generally speaking for the sake of keeping this short, but you can read the report for yourself.

If you are a parent who thinks homework is necessary, despite what research has proven, you can always have your kids read or do fun science projects and conduct your own homework routine.  Another point raised is homework as a means of teaching responsibility.  My response would be, use chores as a means to teach responsibility at home.  It makes sense to keep tasks that are relevant.  Educational responsibilities are kept mostly at school, while home responsibilities are kept there.

I found these guidelines from Educational Leadership to be very useful.

Research-Based Homework Guidelines

Research provides strong evidence that, when used appropriately, homework benefits student achievement. To make sure that homework is appropriate, teachers should follow these guidelines:
  • Assign purposeful homework. Legitimate purposes for homework include introducing new content, practicing a skill or process that students can do independently but not fluently, elaborating on information that has been addressed in class to deepen students' knowledge, and providing opportunities for students to explore topics of their own interest.
  • Design homework to maximize the chances that students will complete it. For example, ensure that homework is at the appropriate level of difficulty. Students should be able to complete homework assignments independently with relatively high success rates, but they should still find the assignments challenging enough to be interesting.
  • Involve parents in appropriate ways (for example, as a sounding board to help students summarize what they learned from the homework) without requiring parents to act as teachers or to police students' homework completion.
  • Carefully monitor the amount of homework assigned so that it is appropriate to students' age levels and does not take too much time away from other home activities.

If you're stuck like us, giving daily, mundane, homework assignments to kids who hate school to begin with, consider these techniques and tips:

-  Let the kids play for a half hour or so and unwind after school (if time   permits).

-  Use a timer to keep them on task.  (We spoke explicitly about this in a previous blog.  Click here to read more about timers.  They can be very effective.)

-  We always say no TV or game time until your homework is finished.  (We also have a blog touching on this and provide you with a useful chart.  Click here.)

-  If you have an IEP, make sure that homework is a part of it.  This was a major help for us.

-  Sit with or around your kids while they do their homework.

-  Provide a treat of fruit and cookies while they work. (This really helps me get them seated and started.)

-  Provide an area where homework is always to be done and make sure it has limited distractions.

-  Explain to the teacher your at home experience and show them the research we shared here and remind them of the IEP.

-  As we always encourage our readers, stick to your guns!  It's so much easier for everyone when we stick with the routine and keep them black and white.  There is little room for arguing.

This is one hot topic and I suppose you could find convincing enough information out there depending on the side you choose to believe or go with, but this is the way we thought was most convincing and judging on our experience, it seems to be true, that homework has very little effect on educational gains with younger students and can even have a negative effect, at that.

We hope we've been of help and that you'll join us next week where we'll be talking about the power of hugs.

Best of luck!

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