Good question, and before we go any further, it needs an answer.
Homework is important for reasons that are obvious and reasons that are not so obvious. Unfortunately, most people – teachers and parents alike – see no further than the obvious.
The immediate, obvious aim of assigning a child homework is to provide that child with an opportunity to practice and strengthen academic skills. By devoting adequate time to homework, the child stands a better chance of making good grades. Right? Right!
But homework is important for reasons other than good grades. Homework can and should be a character building experience, a stepping stone toward emancipation. Managed properly by teachers and parents who have an appreciation for its “hidden values,” homework can help a child become equipped with certain very essential emotional and behavioral skills, skills he will eventually need to successfully negotiate the oftentimes complex demands of adult life. These include the skills of responsibility, autonomy, perseverance, time management, initiative, self-reliance and resourcefulness.
Let’s take a closer look at of these attributes, sometimes called “The Seven Hidden Values of Homework.”
Responsibility: The ability to assume “ownership” of that which rightly belongs to you, to fulfill your obligations, to not hesitate to pick up the ball when it bounces into your court, to hold yourself fully accountable for both your mistakes as well as your successes. Homework is a responsibility that rightfully belongs to the child, not the parents. When parents get too involved, they set the process on its head. The “lessons” get done, but the real lesson doesn’t get learned.
Autonomy: To be self-governing, to stand on your own two feet. Homework is the first time someone other than a parent has assigned tasks to the child on a consistent basis. In that sense, homework breaks new ground. The child is now accountable outside the family. The manner in which this...