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Challenge: Expert Advice

Focus Should Be on Finding Best Way to Support Learning at Home

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The necessity of homework and how much homework is reasonable has been a long-time debate in education. Teachers use homework for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is to reinforce the learning that takes place during the day. I wonder if at the heart of Melissa’s question instead of homework - “Yes or no?” perhaps the question should be, “How do we best support learning at home?”

Homework can be experienced as a mom with her seven-year-old son cuddling up on her lap with a book as he struggles to sound out words. Or it can also mean mom nagging or yelling in frustration as the child fights doing his reading every step of the way.

The social and emotional conditions in which homework takes place at home play a significant role in whether that learning can be reinforced. Is the environment conducive to learning? Is there a routine for homework? Is there support when needed? If homework is a reality for you and your child, then consider the ways in which you show your support for school by making homework an important connection between your family and what is going in the classroom. It can help you better understand what your child is learning, open up dialogue on those topics and bring you into the curriculum. Homework can also be a small way to practice working toward and achieving bigger learning goals. If you make it a positive experience, your child will be ready to take the risks necessary for his next developmental challenges.

We, as parents, bring our own attitudes about homework to our children’s experience. If parents view homework as a drag, it's likely kids will view homework as a drag. But if parents seize the chance to make a connection with the curriculum, it can be a valuable opportunity.

If homework is not assigned but you can tell that your child needs practice, work with him on content areas that require extra support and attempt to make it an enjoyable experience. Talk to the teacher and let her know that you plan to do this and would like her support. Ask the teacher for her suggestions on what areas need work and what books or other resources could support the practice. This allows for a partnership with the teacher and for communication about your child’s learning.

For more on setting up a home environment conducive to learning, check out “Setting Up for Homework Success,”

Jennifer Miller is a Family and Educational Consultant and an expert in Social and Emotional Learnding. For twenty years, Jennifer Miller has guided schools from low performing to high through the integration of social and emotional learning programs.

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