Homework should reinforce learning

Homework should reinforce learning

With World Mental Health Day taking place this week, the focus has quite rightly been on how we look after ourselves and others.

As part of this, the Department for Education published its first State of the Nation report on children and young people’s wellbeing.

The report highlighted that teenage girls who do six or more hours of homework a week are less happy than those who do not spend as much time studying.

While girls aged 14-15 said a positive attitude to school is associated with better psychological health, the report also found that girls who did more homework reported poorer psychological health.

Asking a child if they are ‘happy’ is subjective when it relates to work. Most children are not ‘happy’ about doing more work and it is likely to provoke the answer of ‘no’ if they are asked.

So should homework be scrapped to save young people’s mental health?

In my view, absolutely not. Instead, homework should be more effectively targeted to fit the learning needs of students.

It is crucial that homework reinforces the learning children have engaged with at school. It should check that they have understood the task and can then be used to review the learning points and practice still needed.

Homework also enables the student themselves to clarify what they don’t understand and seek further help from the teacher when necessary.

In addition, homework develops independent study skills and habits skills that will be required later when further training or education is pursued.

We live in a competitive world and it is important that children understand this from an early age. They will have to compete with others in interviews and jobs and only so much shielding from this reality can take place.

Project homework often takes up a lot of time and has few marking and assessment parameters. This can be popular with teachers because little marking is required but can take up a great deal of the student’s time.

If homework is used as a valuable and targeted tool for learning, rather than just to fill up a child’s time at home, it shouldn’t have to be too long or too stressful.