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Homework – the word itself invokes a sense of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety in children and parents alike. Right from the mandatory study hours every evening, to ‘tuitions’ for even the preschoolers, it seems that the homework is doing more harm than good. It comes as no surprise then, that there is an increasing clamour for the homework to be abolished from schools. However, there’s also the other school of thought that insists on reinforcement, and wonders how would learning happen if the child does not reflect on it at home.
What’s the way out then? Don’t ban the homework, but change the way it is assigned, done and evaluated. Let me explain with a few points and examples.
Homework reinforces the learning of concepts, content and skills.
The educators, and to a certain extent, the parents agree with this one. The bone of contention here is that in the name of reinforcement, the homework ends up being more of rote learning, or mindless writing practice. There is no or low-quality supervision, that might have an adverse effect on the entire learning process.
What if the homework involves the practical application of the concept learned at school? If the child has learnt numbers at school, instead of asking them to practice writing numbers, the child should be given a homework of counting with the parent. It could be counting the number of bicycles they see while playing, or counting the number of potatoes being used for dinner. If the learning at school involved nouns, the child could play a conversation game with the parent, instead of mugging up the definition.
Homework lets the parents see what their children are doing at school.
The child is away at school for a few hours. The first question she is asked the moment she is out is – “What did you learn today?”. The teacher evaluates the time the child has spent at home by looking at the worksheets she has brought back. The curiosity on both sides is well justified, but it does create an undue pressure on the child.
Instead, if the parents and teachers decide to work together, the anxieties could be given a rest. If the work being done at home is turned into an interactive one, it will help not only in a better quality of learning, but will also help the parent and child to bond better. A creative task done at home with the parent’s support gives much better results than writing a word 50 times! But of course, it should be something that the child can do with the parent’s support, and not the parent completing it for the submission.
It’s all about the Learning.
This brings us to a very important point – we are obsessed with perfection. Most of us believe that a child’s assignment needs to be done right down to the level of a professional artist. If the child is learning about shapes, the ball that she is drawing has to be a perfect round. When she is learning to write, her alphabets should be impeccable. If she can’t do it, we parents, want to do it ourselves, just so it looks nice!
We miss the woods for the trees here. It is more important for the child to be able to understand that a round is a shape that can roll, and doesn’t have edges. The perfection in the round, or the difference between a circle and an oval can come later. It will help her better to understand the difference between M and W at this stage. That all the lines used to make the alphabets should be of the same length can wait.
In all the rush for the assignment, the teachers, parents and most importantly the children are stressed. That leaves no time for them to actually reflect on what happened during the day, or to think. Or to read. Or to play. And a childhood can’t be complete without all these things. Won’t you agree? Calvin does 🙂
Let us know what you think of the homework in the comments below.