Why do homework?

The movie “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines” is about about a race from London to Paris in 1910. In the movie a German officer reads a book in order to learn how to fly. It doesn’t work too well for him though, because he crashes his plane into the English Channel.

Some students think that listening to a lecture and doing a few problems in school is enough. But the truth is, students need to practice what they have learned. The practicing serves two purposes. First, it cements the skill in that part of the brain that does things by rote. It makes those skills a habit. But just as important, it also exposes the questions or gaps in the skill, so that the student can go back to the teacher and get further instruction.

I have seen many articles and books written about the subject of homework. As a matter of fact, in the last few years there are many books that are clearly opposed to it. In my experience, students who do all of their homework get far better grades than students who don’t complete it all. And, in addition, the students who do all of their homework are able to study for the larger midterm or final tests in less than half the time of the students who hadn’t done their homework all along. So, the payoff for doing your homework is better grades and less time studying for tests. I think most kids would buy into that option for sure!

When I teach study skills, I work with students that have never put a priority on school or homework. They learn to keep a calendar, make a schedule, prioritize their activities, analyze notes, manage their projects and even how to spend LESS time doing their school work.

Students should be doing homework in every subject, every day. Just because the work isn’t being collected the next day, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be worked on. Fifteen minutes per day, spent working on learning a new concept in science or some new vocabulary has far more worth than 3 hours spent on a project once every other week. Ask your student how they learn a new video game or how they learn to play on the football team. Neither of those things work when “crammed” into long lessons. They both require regular every day practice. Well, so do school subjects. Practice EVERY DAY!

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