The Benefits of Homework by xtw17906

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Before discussing ways you can help your child with homework, it is important to discuss
why teachers assign homework and how it benefits your child.
1. Why Do Teachers Assign Homework?
Teachers assign homework for many reasons. Homework can help children:
Review and practice what they've learned;
Get ready for the next day's class;
Learn to use resources, such as libraries, reference materials, and encyclopedias; and
Explore subjects more fully than time permits in the classroom.
Homework can also help children develop good habits and attitudes. It can:
 Teach children to work independently;
 Encourage self-discipline and responsibility (assignments provide some youngsters with
their first chance to manage time and meet deadlines); and
 Encourage a love of learning.
Homework can also bring parents and educators closer together. Parents who supervise
homework and work with their children on assignments learn about their children's
education and about the school.
Homework is meant to be a positive experience and to encourage children to learn.
Assignments should not be used as punishment.
2. Does Homework Help Children Learn?
Homework helps your child do better in school when assignments:
Are completed successfully
Are returned with constructive comments from the teacher
Are meaningful
Have a specific purpose
Come with clear instructions
Are fairly well matched to a student's abilities
Are designed to help develop a student's knowledge and skills
In the early elementary grades, homework can help children develop the habits and
attitudes described earlier.
From fourth through sixth grades, small amounts of homework, gradually increased each
year, may support improved academic achievement.
In seventh grade and beyond, students who complete more homework score better on
standardized tests and earn better grades, on the average, than students who do less
homework. The difference in test scores and grades between students who do more
homework and those who do less increases as children move up through the grades.
3. What's the Right Amount of Homework?
Many educators believe that homework is most effective for the majority of children in:
Blue Mountain Union uses the scientifically researched formula of ten minutes per grade

Example 1st grade=10 minutes; 3rd grade=30 minutes.

At the high school level, some students may have two hours or more on certain nights
depending on how many classes they take and how well they have spaced out the work
required on long-term projects. If a student is spending too much time on homework, call
or e-mail the teacher and discuss the situation.


The basic rule is Don't do the assignments yourself. It's not your homework--it's your
child's. Doing assignments for your child won't help him understand and use information.
And it won't help him become confident in his own abilities.
It can be hard for parents to let children work through problems alone and learn from
their mistakes. It's also hard to know where to draw the line between supporting and
Different teachers have different ideas about the best way for parents to provide
guidance. Here are a few suggestions with which most teachers agree:

If you understand something about the style of learning that suits your child, it will be
easier for you to help her.
 Does your child learn things best when she can see them? If so, drawing a picture or a
chart may help with some assignments. For example, after reading her science book, she
may not remember the difference between the tibia and the fibula. But by drawing a
picture of the leg and labeling the bones, she can remember easily.
 Does your child learn things best when he can hear them? He may need to listen to a
story or have directions read to him. Too much written material or too many pictures or
charts may confuse him.
 Does your child understand some things best when she can handle or move them? An
apple cut four or six or eight ways can help children learn fractions.
As mentioned earlier, it's a good idea to set a regular time for children to do homework.
Put up a calendar in a place where you'll see it often and record assignments on it. If your
   child's not able to write yet, then do it for him until he can do it himself. Writing out
   assignments will get him used to the idea of keeping track of what's due and when. You
   may want to use an assignment book instead of a calendar.


                                Getting Kids to Do Their Own Homework

   Children need to know that their parents and adults close to them think homework is
   important. If they know their parents care, children have a good reason to complete
   assignments and turn them in on time. There is a lot that you can do to show that you
   value education and homework.
   1. Determine the Best Time for Homework
   As you start a new school year, it's a good idea to plan with your child when homework
   is to be done. The goal should be to select a regular time that is workable for everyone
   — both the family's schedule and your child's needs. Think about your child's
   temperament. Does she need to run around and get rid of some pent up energy after
   school? Does he need some "down time?" Homework time should not be a punishment,
   and there are many different ways to schedule it. If you can find the right time with
   your child — and be consistent about it — the whole process will be more peaceful, as
   well as more efficient and productive.
   Finding a regular time for homework helps children finish assignments. The best
   schedule is one that works for your child and your family. What works well in one
   household may not work in another. Of course, a good schedule depends in part on your
   child's age, as well as individual needs. For instance, one youngster may work best in the
   afternoon after an hour of play, and another may be more efficient after dinner (although
   late at night, when children are tired, is seldom a good time).
   Outside activities, such as sports or music lessons, may mean that you need a flexible
   schedule. Your child may study after school on some days and in the evening on others.
   If there isn't enough time to finish homework, your child may need to drop some outside
   activity. Homework must be a high priority.
   Some families have a required amount of time that children must devote to homework or
   some other learning activity each school night (the length of time can vary depending
   upon the child's age). For instance, if your seventh-grader knows she's expected to spend
   an hour doing homework, reading, or visiting the library, she may be less likely to rush
   through assignments so that she can watch television. A required amount of time may
   also discourage her from "forgetting" to bring home assignments and help her adjust to a
2. Pick a Place.
A study area should have lots of light, supplies close by, and be fairly quiet.
A study area doesn't have to be fancy. A desk in the bedroom is nice, but for many
youngsters the kitchen table or a corner of the living room works just fine (and it is easier
for parents to monitor).
3. Remove Distractions.
Turn off the television and discourage social telephone calls during homework time. (A
call to a classmate about an assignment may, however, be helpful.) Some youngsters
work well with quiet background music. Try having all family members take part in a
quiet activity during homework time.
4. Provide Supplies and Identify Resources.
For starters, collect pencils, pens, erasers, writing paper, an assignment book, and a
dictionary. Other things that might be helpful include glue, a stapler, paper clips, maps, a
calculator, a pencil sharpener, tape, scissors, a ruler, index cards, a thesaurus, an almanac
and a computer. Keep these items together in one place if possible. Check with the
teacher, school guidance counselor, or principal about borrowing necessary supplies.
5. Set a Good Example.
Children are more likely to study if they see you reading, writing, and doing things that
require thought and effort on your part. Talk with your child about what you're reading
and writing even if it's something as simple as making the grocery list. Tell them about
what you do at work. Work together at the table.
6. Show an Interest.
Read with your child as often as you can. Talk about school and learning activities in
family conversations. Ask your child what was discussed in class that day. If he doesn't
have much to say, try another approach. For example, ask your child to read aloud a story
he wrote or discuss the results of a science experiment.
Another good way to show your interest is to attend school activities, such as parent-
teacher meetings, shows, and sports events. If you can, volunteer to help in the classroom
or at special events. Getting to know some classmates and other parents not only shows
you're interested but helps build a network of support for you and your child.
Help Them Understand The Directions
Many children do need help with homework, but it is important to help in ways that will
lead to independence. Consider this: Before they've even glanced at the directions, kids
often will show parents a worksheet and say, "I don't get it." Kids know what they're
doing; why spend time figuring out directions if you can get Mom or Dad to explain
what to do? In these cases, rather than reading the directions to yourself and then
explaining them, ask your child to read the directions aloud to you. This strategy enables
kids to hear the directions, which is often all that's needed to make the assignment clear.
Offer Guidance and Support When Needed
If your child is one who needs individual support and attention both at school and at
home, tackle the assignments one at a time. Go over the directions and materials with
your child, making sure he is clear about what needs to be done. Talk about what needs
to be completed — even if it is only a portion of the assignment—and then disappear.
As always, the goal is to nurture and help your child believe in her ability to be
However you help your child with homework, don't lose sight of whose assignment it
really is. Editing, rewriting, and changing answers may enhance the quality of the work
but not the learning experience. Though your child will be happier with the higher grades,
he will become a less confident learner. Keep in mind that while we all want success for
our children, the ultimate goal is independence.
Children are more likely to complete assignments successfully when parents monitor
homework. How closely you need to monitor depends upon the age of your child, how
independent she is, and how well she does in school. Whatever the age of your child, if
assignments are not getting done satisfactorily, more supervision is needed.


Here are some good ways to monitor assignments:

1. At the start of the school year, find out what the teacher expects. At the
middle/high school level this is provided in each teacher’s course information
What kinds of assignments will be given?
How long are children expected to take to complete them?
How does the teacher want you to be involved?
Teachers' expectations vary. Ask your child's teacher what you should do. Should you
just check to make sure the assignment is done, or should you do something more? Some
teachers want parents to go over the homework and point out errors, while others ask
parents to simply check to make sure the assignment is completed. It's also a good idea to
ask the teacher to call you if any problems with homework come up.
2. Be Available.
Elementary school students often like to have someone in the same room when working
on assignments in case they have questions. If someone else will care for your child, talk
to that person about what you expect regarding homework. For an older child, if no one
will be around, let him know you want him to begin work before you get home and call
to remind him if necessary.
3. Look Over Completed Assignments.
It's usually a good idea to check to see that your elementary school child has finished her
assignments. If your middle school student is having trouble finishing assignments, check
his too. If you're not there when an assignment is finished, look it over when you get
home. After the teacher returns completed homework, read the comments to see if your
child has done the assignments satisfactorily.
4. Monitor Television Viewing.
American children on average spend far more time watching television than they do
completing homework. In many homes, more homework gets done when television time
is limited. Once you and your child have worked out a homework schedule, take time to
discuss how much television and what programs she can watch. It's worth noting that
television can be a learning tool. Look for programs that relate to what your child is
studying in school, such as programs on history or science or dramatizations of children's
literature. When you can, watch shows with your child and discuss them.

Parents can play an important role in helping their children succeed in school, but they
need an effective approach in order to do this well. The approach taken in the book,
"Helping with Homework: A Parent's Guide to Information Problem-Solving," is based
on the Big Six Skills problem-solving approach. The Big Six Skills apply to any problem
or activity that requires a solution or result based on information. An abundance of
information is available from many sources, and the Big Six can help parents effectively
deal with that information to guide their youngsters through school assignments.
The Big Six approach has six components: task definition, information seeking strategies,
location and access, use of information, synthesis, and evaluation.

(1) Task Definition: In the task definition stage, students need to determine what is
    expected from the assignment.

(2) Information Seeking Strategies: Once students know what's expected of them, they
    need to identify the resources they will need to solve the task as defined. This is
    information seeking.
(3) Location & Access: Next, the students must find potentially useful resources. This is
    location and access--the implementation of the information seeking strategy.

(4) Use of Information: Use of information requires the students to engage the
    information (for example: read it) and decide how to use it (for example: in text or in
    a footnote).

(5) Synthesis: Synthesis requires the students to repackage the information to meet the
    requirements of the task as defined.
(6) Evaluation: Finally, students need to evaluate their work on two levels before it is
    turned in to the teacher. Students need to know if their work will meet their teacher's
    expectations for quality and efficiency.

The Big Six steps may be applied in any order, but all steps must be completed.

The Big Six approach requires parents and students to assume different roles. The parent
assumes the role of a "coach" and the child assumes the role of "thinker and doer." As a
coach, the parent can use the Big Six Skills to guide the student through all the steps it
takes to complete the assignment. Parents can help by first asking their children to
explain assignments in their own words. This is "task definition"--a logical first step.
Parents can also help by discussing possible sources of information. This is "information
seeking strategies." Parents can then help their children implement information seeking
strategies by helping their children find useful resources. This is the Big Six step called
"location and access." Location and access may have to be repeated during an assignment
because some children may not identify everything they need right at the beginning.
Parents can facilitate by brainstorming with their children alternate places where
information might be available. In the "use of information" stage, parents can discuss
whether the information the child located is relevant and if so, help the child decide how
to use it. In the "synthesis" stage, parents can ask for a summary of the information in the
child's own words, and ask whether the information meets the requirements identified in
the "task definition" stage. The end of any assignment is the final check--an evaluation of
all the work that has been done. Parents can help their children with the "evaluation"
stage by discussing whether the product answers the original question, whether it meets
the teacher's expectations, and whether the project could have been done more efficiently.

As children work through each of the Big Six steps, they need to think about what they
need to do, and then they need to find appropriate ways to do it. This is their role--
"thinker and doer." Children should be encouraged to be as independent as possible, but
they will often have difficulty beginning an assignment because they are confused about
what is expected of them. Whatever the reason is for their inability to get started, students
have the ultimate responsibility for getting their work done. When parents act as coaches,
they can help their children assume this responsibility by engaging them in conversation
about what is expected of them, and then by guiding them throughout the assignment
using the Big Six Skills.
The Big Six approach recognizes the benefits of technology in education because
computers are tools that help organize information. Software programs do a variety of
functions such as edit written work, check grammar and spelling, chart and graph
quantities, and construct outlines. Computers can also help with time management,
setting priorities, and evaluating efficiency.
Using the Internet, students can connect to many non-traditional sources of information
and are not limited to information contained on library shelves. They can use e-mail to
talk directly with specialists and experts who can add a personal dimension to an

The most cumbersome task given to students is performed at home rather than in school:
studying. It is a huge assignment, one that only grows larger and more difficult as kids
move up through the grades. Studying, regardless of the subject matter, requires
organization, self discipline, and a plan. For the majority of students, this does not come
naturally. Hours are wasted simply staring at old assignments often leaves students with a
grade lower than they think they deserve. Yes, they put in time studying, but it wasn't
effective studying.

1. Teach kids to eliminate what they already know.
This is not as obvious to young kids as it is to adults, and a lot of study time is wasted
reviewing known facts. Whatever it is that your child has to memorize, give her an oral
"pretest" before any studying has been done. Immediately eliminate the items that she
knows from the list. As she goes over the information, more and more will be eliminated,
and your child will see the task getting smaller, shorter, and easier—all great self
confidence builders. Then the night before the test, review everything one last time.
2. Have kids create folded study sheets.
These tools are good for memorizing definitions or number facts, and once they know
how, kids can easily create their own. Take a sheet of lined paper, and fold it in half
lengthwise. Unfold the paper, and have your child list the number facts or glossary words
down the left side of the paper and the answer or definition to the right of the fold. Then,
refold the paper and have him test himself. These folded study sheets are especially good
because kids don't get a "split second" peek at the answer like they do when covering
material with their hands. As your child reviews the list, have him put a dot or check next
to any items he doesn't know. At the end, he will know exactly which ones to eliminate
and which to focus on. This "list system" promotes independent study habits and also
gives you a ready-made review test to use when your child is done studying.
3. Provide colored index cards.
They are sold in any large drug store, come in multicolor packs, and are great for visual
learners and kids who have difficulty organizing and sorting ideas. Use them to mark
 different sections of text books—for example, yellow cards to mark chapter review
 question pages and purple cards for chapter summary pages. This simple method enables
 kids to flip back and forth to reference pages quickly—it's amazing how much study time
 kids can waste finding the same pages over and over again. You can also used index
 cards to help kids who are comparing literature books or short stories—they give them an
 easy way to track each title's characters, themes, and conflicts.
 4. Show kids how to make test grids.
 Even the earliest tests require kids to memorize and compare information. The easiest
 way to study for these tests is by setting up a one-page grid. For example, say your child
 has an elementary social studies test on the 13 colonies—who founded them, who settled
 them, and what the settlers did for a living. Together, create a test grid with four columns:
 Colony Name, Founder, Settlers, Making A Living. In the first column, have your child
 list the names of the colonies. Then have her complete each row, filling in the
 information under the remaining headings. Not only are test grids a great way to organize
 notes for studying, they also condense the information onto a single page—making the
 task look less threatening.
 Effective studying is a skill that evolves over time. Kids should use their test results as
 feedback for their methods: How well did I study? What didn't work? What could I
 change for next time? Help your kids ponder these questions and come up with a "game
 plan" for next time. Strive, though, to create independent study times. Begin pushing
 independence as soon as your child starts to study, but do it gradually—you don't want
 your child to feel like you've pulled the rug out from underneath him. Even if you begin
 with short increments, your message is still clear: Studying is something I expect you to
 do by yourself.


 Many parents regularly help kids prepare for tests during the elementary school years.
 However, when kids reach middle school and high school, circumstances change.
 Adolescence—that infamous age of struggle—rears its ugly head, and most kids actively
 discourage parents from going anywhere near their "school life." (With the exception of
 buying supplies or providing rides at a moment's notice, of course!) Plus the subject
 matter is no longer that which parents automatically remember—or want to relearn.

 If your child is working with formulas, proofs, or equations, having him create review
 cards can be a huge help. On the back of an index card, have him write the math
 statement that needs to be memorized along with a definition that includes both what it
 means and when it is used. On the front, he should add one or two problems, from the
 book, that can be solved using the statement. Then to review, he can look at the problems
 and practice identifying which statements.
 Reviewing vocabulary.
 In all areas of the curriculum, kids have terms that they need to learn to define. Prior to
 making her study sheet, have your child go through the vocabulary list orally to see
which ones she automatically knows. Elimination is a key piece when studying—there is
no reason for words that have been mastered to be put on her list.
Studying for social studies and science.
Very often, in both subjects kids are expected to compare qualities or characteristics and
to defend their knowledge with examples. A great way to accomplish this is with a grid—
a visual representation of comparisons between topics that teaches kids how to generalize
information. Your child should summarize notes for the grid. Being able to review these
notes and explain them more elaborately is the first step in demonstrating an
understanding of the material. Also, once the material is on a single page—regardless of
the amount of knowledge it represents—it will look less daunting. If your child needs
help with the grid, discuss the headings of the rows and columns. You can also make sure
he knows where the information is located. Then he should be able to proceed on his
own. After your child has created and studied the grid—done the independent
preparation—then you can ask him questions based on the grid's information.
Managing chapter reviews and other large nightmares.
The first step is to organize materials. Class notes and any other significant papers should
be organized according to topics. Textbook headings help by organizing topics using
boldface type. If the amount of information is overwhelming, making a list of general
topics, dividing them up over several days, and tackling them a little at a time is much
more effective than looking at the whole piece over and over again. An extra hint: Have
your child look back at notes and highlight any topic or ideas every night that the teacher
spent a lot of time discussing and explaining in class. Doing this every day is very
helpful. Odds are it's on the test.
BMU teachers make time to meet with students after school. Late bus nights run two
nights a week. It is very appropriate for your child to stop in before a test, especially if it
is an area of difficulty, and ask a teacher to help her compile a list of key elements to
focus on when studying. Teachers are available from 7:30 AM to 7:50 AM. Often a
teacher will work during lunch with student(s) who ask for extra help. A hint to your
child: Don't wait until the last minute—your discussion with your teacher should indicate
effort, not a desire to get a "free ride!"

If you are a subscriber to America Online, visit the Homework Help area on the Kids
Only channel. You can join a chat with teachers and students, or post a question for a
teacher (grades K-6) on a bulletin board and receive and answer back. You also have
access to an online thesaurus, dictionary and encyclopedia.
Type in a question and Jeeves will provide an answer, or suggest other places to search.
The bestselling almanac comes to life on this site. You'll also find help with study skills,
a broad list of topics, and a solid search mechanism here.
This site, designed by 14-year-old B.J. Pinchbeck and his dad, is part of the Discovery
Channel site. It contains links to just about any place students would want to visit to find
information: newspaper sites, news organizations, book and author sites, grammar pointer
sites, and more.

At students can search by subject and by age group (Kids,
Teens, and College & Beyond) to research such topics as current events, history,
geography and technology. On the lighter side, visitors will find games and contests, too.
Teachers and librarians have plenty to choose from here as well.
Blue Mountain Union School has subscribed to a new online resource that will be an
excellent place for students to find reliable information for answering questions and
conducting research. It is called the Virtual Library. It is located on the Internet at Online access to the Oxford English Dictionary, encyclopedias,
almanacs, a huge full-text periodicals database, a children’s periodicals database, the
world’s largest bibliographic database, a collection of 100,000 superior websites which
have been selected and cataloged by real live librarians, over 9,000 e-books, and more.
Username: learning, Password: tool.

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