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HOMEWORK can be a vexing problem for many parents.
It builds up slowly. In the early years of primary school, it’s more fun than work, but by the end of primary school it starts to mount up.
Then, when your kids hit high school, it gets much more serious. Suddenly, your son or daughter has half a dozen assignments at any one time, alongside all the other things they need to do, from maths revision to rehearsing lines for a school play.
On top of that are all their “extra-curricular” commitments, especially sport that often starts early in the morning and can finish late in the evening. Helping one’s kids manage everything is a key parental responsibility, but how far do you go in helping with homework?
I want my children to do well at school, to learn as much as they can and be well set up for their lives and careers. So I reckon homework is pretty important.
It helps kids practice what they have learned, how to solve problems, to learn to work independently and to manage numerous tasks and competing deadlines. It can also be very stressful, particularly when the kids haven’t time-managed a project properly and you have to support them through a long night of homework horror. One of the best questions you can ask early in the school term is what assignments have you got and when are they due?
There’s also a big question about how far you go in lending a hand. I know some parents who literally do their kid’s homework, the whole kit and kaboodle, to help boost their son or daughter’s grades. This is all the easier to do in these days of digital learning and electronic lodgement of assignments. But it really does defeat the purpose of the whole exercise since the key thing is for kids to learn and organise themselves.
Overall, homework seems a lot more varied and interesting than in my school days. The kids have brought home all sorts of interesting projects – from investigating a local environmental remediation project in our suburb, to researching and writing about the French Revolution or programming a class-built robot to do new tricks.
Sometimes I know I could help them a bit more, but at the end of the day I reckon they have to work hard themselves and learn through doing.
Of course, it’s a tough balance and likely to get tougher as my kids get older, the demands of school increase as are their sporting and other commitments. That’s when discipline and good time management will be even more important.