How to Address Homework Concerns-Guest Post by Chris Anderson

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Chrisamy “Chris” Anderson is an educator with over 20 years experience working with students in grades kindergarten through 12, in regular and special education settings. She possesses a Masters of Science Degree in Education along with seven current credentials and certificates, in the areas of: special education, resource specialist, Autism Spectrum Disorders, reading, art, multiple subjects, and cross-cultural, language, and academic development.  Chrisamy understands the importance of communication with her students and their families and works closely with each to best meet their individual academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs in addition to developing appropriate goals/objectives, interventions, and modifications.

The topic of homework is one that has a long history of debate in education. Over the years, many questions have arisen as to the importance of homework and how much time students should spend on homework. There are a selection of educational articles on the validity of homework that represent both ends of the spectrum; those that believe that homework is an important part of student growth and those with the belief that homework is an unnecessary task that may actually harm student development. This wide range of viewpoints can also be witnessed within school districts, schools, grade-levels, and amongst individual teachers. Sometimes it is at the discretion of the teacher as to how much homework will be given and what type of homework tasks will be assigned. These inconsistencies can cause a variety of concerns for parents. Questions may arise such as: why do some classes receive different amounts of homework, why does my student receive homework that is too difficult or easy, why does my student spend so much time on homework, or why am I experiencing so many power struggles with my student in regards homework? Regardless of research studies or teacher and school philosophies on homework, parents need to know how to help their students be successful.

In the early grades of elementary school, homework can serve a variety of purposes: provide students with additional practice of concepts, help develop responsibility, and increase the involvement of parents. Older students may bring home in-class assignments to complete at home, which then makes it part of the student’s homework. As students get older, the curriculum often becomes more challenging and the homework becomes increasingly more time consuming and difficult for students. This can also mean that homework becomes more problematic for parents. No matter what the age of the student, it is important to know what the teacher expectations are for your student in regards to homework. Each student has his or her ability level and learning style, which should be taken into consideration when homework tasks are developed and assigned.

Communication with teachers and staff is vital to your success in helping your student. Before contacting the teacher, consider making a list of items to bring up. Items or questions could include:

-What are the teacher’s expectations on homework?

*How long should an assignment take to complete?

*How often is homework given?

*Are modifications available for students who are having difficulties?

-What are some of the challenges that your student faces with homework?

*Tasks are too difficult/easy

*Tasks are too time consuming

*Student does not understand the task

*Student does not communicate his or her frustrations or problems

-What are some of your challenges in helping your student with homework?

*Student does not tell you when there is an assignment

*Student will not initiate a task when asked

*Student does not accept help from you

*Student spends long amounts of time working on homework assignments

In addition to your list of items, consider bringing a homework assignment that was a challenge for your student, so that you have an example to show the teacher. Take notes at your meeting of any helpful information the teacher may share with you. Find out what the best way is to have communication with the teacher throughout the school year. If challenges persist, let the teacher know, and then discuss whether or not it would be beneficial to have a meeting with your student present or include other staff members who work with your student. Follow through and follow up to ensure that your student is getting his or her needs met while developing the appropriate academic skills and goals.

Homework does not have to be an ongoing battle. If parents are equipped with the right information and tools, it is possible to help our students be successful in this area of their education.

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