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A daughter sits at a desk doing homework while her mom stands beside her helping

Credit: August de Richelieu

Does homework still have value? A Johns Hopkins education expert weighs in

Joyce epstein, co-director of the center on school, family, and community partnerships, discusses why homework is essential, how to maximize its benefit to learners, and what the 'no-homework' approach gets wrong.

By Vicky Hallett

The necessity of homework has been a subject of debate since at least as far back as the 1890s, according to Joyce L. Epstein , co-director of the Center on School, Family, and Community Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University. "It's always been the case that parents, kids—and sometimes teachers, too—wonder if this is just busy work," Epstein says.

But after decades of researching how to improve schools, the professor in the Johns Hopkins School of Education remains certain that homework is essential—as long as the teachers have done their homework, too. The National Network of Partnership Schools , which she founded in 1995 to advise schools and districts on ways to improve comprehensive programs of family engagement, has developed hundreds of improved homework ideas through its Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program. For an English class, a student might interview a parent on popular hairstyles from their youth and write about the differences between then and now. Or for science class, a family could identify forms of matter over the dinner table, labeling foods as liquids or solids. These innovative and interactive assignments not only reinforce concepts from the classroom but also foster creativity, spark discussions, and boost student motivation.

"We're not trying to eliminate homework procedures, but expand and enrich them," says Epstein, who is packing this research into a forthcoming book on the purposes and designs of homework. In the meantime, the Hub couldn't wait to ask her some questions:

What kind of homework training do teachers typically get?

Future teachers and administrators really have little formal training on how to design homework before they assign it. This means that most just repeat what their teachers did, or they follow textbook suggestions at the end of units. For example, future teachers are well prepared to teach reading and literacy skills at each grade level, and they continue to learn to improve their teaching of reading in ongoing in-service education. By contrast, most receive little or no training on the purposes and designs of homework in reading or other subjects. It is really important for future teachers to receive systematic training to understand that they have the power, opportunity, and obligation to design homework with a purpose.

Why do students need more interactive homework?

If homework assignments are always the same—10 math problems, six sentences with spelling words—homework can get boring and some kids just stop doing their assignments, especially in the middle and high school years. When we've asked teachers what's the best homework you've ever had or designed, invariably we hear examples of talking with a parent or grandparent or peer to share ideas. To be clear, parents should never be asked to "teach" seventh grade science or any other subject. Rather, teachers set up the homework assignments so that the student is in charge. It's always the student's homework. But a good activity can engage parents in a fun, collaborative way. Our data show that with "good" assignments, more kids finish their work, more kids interact with a family partner, and more parents say, "I learned what's happening in the curriculum." It all works around what the youngsters are learning.

Is family engagement really that important?

At Hopkins, I am part of the Center for Social Organization of Schools , a research center that studies how to improve many aspects of education to help all students do their best in school. One thing my colleagues and I realized was that we needed to look deeply into family and community engagement. There were so few references to this topic when we started that we had to build the field of study. When children go to school, their families "attend" with them whether a teacher can "see" the parents or not. So, family engagement is ever-present in the life of a school.

My daughter's elementary school doesn't assign homework until third grade. What's your take on "no homework" policies?

There are some parents, writers, and commentators who have argued against homework, especially for very young children. They suggest that children should have time to play after school. This, of course is true, but many kindergarten kids are excited to have homework like their older siblings. If they give homework, most teachers of young children make assignments very short—often following an informal rule of 10 minutes per grade level. "No homework" does not guarantee that all students will spend their free time in productive and imaginative play.

Some researchers and critics have consistently misinterpreted research findings. They have argued that homework should be assigned only at the high school level where data point to a strong connection of doing assignments with higher student achievement . However, as we discussed, some students stop doing homework. This leads, statistically, to results showing that doing homework or spending more minutes on homework is linked to higher student achievement. If slow or struggling students are not doing their assignments, they contribute to—or cause—this "result."

Teachers need to design homework that even struggling students want to do because it is interesting. Just about all students at any age level react positively to good assignments and will tell you so.

Did COVID change how schools and parents view homework?

Within 24 hours of the day school doors closed in March 2020, just about every school and district in the country figured out that teachers had to talk to and work with students' parents. This was not the same as homeschooling—teachers were still working hard to provide daily lessons. But if a child was learning at home in the living room, parents were more aware of what they were doing in school. One of the silver linings of COVID was that teachers reported that they gained a better understanding of their students' families. We collected wonderfully creative examples of activities from members of the National Network of Partnership Schools. I'm thinking of one art activity where every child talked with a parent about something that made their family unique. Then they drew their finding on a snowflake and returned it to share in class. In math, students talked with a parent about something the family liked so much that they could represent it 100 times. Conversations about schoolwork at home was the point.

How did you create so many homework activities via the Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork program?

We had several projects with educators to help them design interactive assignments, not just "do the next three examples on page 38." Teachers worked in teams to create TIPS activities, and then we turned their work into a standard TIPS format in math, reading/language arts, and science for grades K-8. Any teacher can use or adapt our prototypes to match their curricula.

Overall, we know that if future teachers and practicing educators were prepared to design homework assignments to meet specific purposes—including but not limited to interactive activities—more students would benefit from the important experience of doing their homework. And more parents would, indeed, be partners in education.

Posted in Voices+Opinion

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Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.

The Value of Homework

Are teachers assigning too much homework.

Posted September 5, 2016 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan

  • Studies show that the benefits of homework peak at about one hour to 90 minutes, and then after that, test scores begin to decline.
  • Research has found that high school teachers (grades 9-12) report assigning an average of 3.5 hours’ worth of homework a week.
  • While homework is necessary, there needs to be balance as well as communication between teachers about the amount of homework being assigned.

SIphotography/Deposit Photos

The value of homework has been the subject of debate over the years. In regards to research, the jury is still out as to whether homework positively impacts a student's academic achievement.

In the past, I have written a couple of posts on homework and whether or not it is being used or abused by educators. I am always amazed at what some of my young readers share about sleepless nights, not participating in extracurricular events, and high levels of stress —all of which are attributed to large and daunting amounts of homework .

There have been studies that show that doing homework in moderation improves test performance. So we can’t rule out the value of homework if it’s conducive to learning. However, studies have also shown that the benefits of homework peak at about one hour to 90 minutes, and then after that, test scores begin to decline.

Now, while looking at data, it’s important to review the standard, endorsed by the National Education Association and the National Parent-Teacher Association , known as the "10-minute rule" — 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night. That would mean there would only be 10 minutes of homework in the first grade, and end with 120 minutes for senior year of high school (double what research shows beneficial). This leads to an important question: On average, how much homework do teachers assign?

monkeybusiness/Deposit Photos

Typical homework amounts

A Harris Poll from the University of Phoenix surveyed teachers about the hours of homework required of students and why they assign it. Pollsters received responses from approximately 1,000 teachers in public, private, and parochial schools across the United States.

High school teachers (grades 9-12) reported assigning an average of 3.5 hours’ worth of homework a week. Middle school teachers (grades 6-8) reported assigning almost the same amount as high school teachers, 3.2 hours of homework a week. Lastly, K-5 teachers said they assigned an average of 2.9 hours of homework each week. This data shows a spike in homework beginning in middle school.

Why homework is assigned

When teachers were asked why they assign homework, they gave the top three reasons:

  • to see how well students understand lessons
  • to help students develop essential problem-solving skills
  • to show parents what's being learned in school

Approximately, 30 percent of teachers reported they assigned homework to cover more content areas. What’s interesting about this poll was the longer an educator had been in the field the less homework they assigned. Take a look at the breakdown below:

  • 3.6 hours (teachers with less than 10 years in the classroom)
  • 3.1 hours (teachers with 10 to 19 years in the classroom)
  • 2.8 hours (teachers with more than 20 years in the classroom)

The need for balance

While many agree that homework does have a time and place, there needs to be a balance between life and school. There also needs to be communication with other teachers in the school about assignments. Oftentimes, educators get so involved in their subject area, they communicate departmentally, not school-wide. As a result, it’s not uncommon for teens to have a project and a couple of tests all on the same day. This dump of work can lead to an overwhelming amount of stress.

Questions for educators

Educators, how can you maximize the benefit of homework? Use the questions below to guide you in whether or not to assign work outside of the classroom. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need to assign homework or can this be done in class?
  • Does this assignment contribute and supplement the lesson reviewed in class?
  • Do students have all of the information they need to do this assignment? In others words, are they prepared to do the homework?
  • What are you wanting your students to achieve from this assignment? Do you have a specific objective and intended outcome in mind?
  • How much time will the assignment take to complete? Have you given your students a sufficient amount of time?
  • Have you taken into account other coursework that your students have due?
  • How can you incorporate student choice and feedback into your classroom?
  • How can you monitor whether or not you are overloading your students?

Wavebreakmedia/Deposit Photos

What kids think of homework

Educators: As a conclusion, I have provided a few of the many comments, that I have received below. I think it’s important to look at the age/grade level and messages these teens have shared. Take time to read their words and reflect on ways you can incorporate their perspective into course objectives and content. I believe the solution to the homework dilemma can be found in assigning work in moderation and finding a balance between school, home, and life.

“I am a 7th grader in a small school in Michigan. I think one of the main problems about what teachers think about homework is that they do not think about what other classes are assigned for homework. Throughout the day, I get at least two full pages of homework to complete by the next day. During the school year, I am hesitant to sign up for sports because I am staying up after a game or practice to finish my homework.”

why teachers use homework

“I'm 17 and I'm in my last year of high school. I can honestly tell you that from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. (sometimes 1 or 2 a.m.) I am doing homework. I've been trying to balance my homework with my work schedule, work around my house, and my social life with no success. So if someone were to ask me if I think kids have too much homework, I would say yes they do. My comment is based solely on my personal experience in high school.”

“I am 13 and I have a problem: homework. I can’t get my homework done at home because it is all on my school MacBook. I don’t own my own personal computer, only an Amazon Fire tablet. What’s the problem with my tablet? There are no middle or high school apps for it. You are might be wondering, “Why not bring the MacBook home?” Well, I am not allowed to, so what is the punishment ? Four late assignments, and 1 late argument essay. And 90% of the homework I get is on my MacBook. This is a mega stresser!"

Raychelle Cassada Lohmann Ph.D.

Raychelle Cassada Lohman n , M.S., LPC, is the author of The Anger Workbook for Teens .

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Student Opinion

Should We Get Rid of Homework?

Some educators are pushing to get rid of homework. Would that be a good thing?

why teachers use homework

By Jeremy Engle and Michael Gonchar

Do you like doing homework? Do you think it has benefited you educationally?

Has homework ever helped you practice a difficult skill — in math, for example — until you mastered it? Has it helped you learn new concepts in history or science? Has it helped to teach you life skills, such as independence and responsibility? Or, have you had a more negative experience with homework? Does it stress you out, numb your brain from busywork or actually make you fall behind in your classes?

Should we get rid of homework?

In “ The Movement to End Homework Is Wrong, ” published in July, the Times Opinion writer Jay Caspian Kang argues that homework may be imperfect, but it still serves an important purpose in school. The essay begins:

Do students really need to do their homework? As a parent and a former teacher, I have been pondering this question for quite a long time. The teacher side of me can acknowledge that there were assignments I gave out to my students that probably had little to no academic value. But I also imagine that some of my students never would have done their basic reading if they hadn’t been trained to complete expected assignments, which would have made the task of teaching an English class nearly impossible. As a parent, I would rather my daughter not get stuck doing the sort of pointless homework I would occasionally assign, but I also think there’s a lot of value in saying, “Hey, a lot of work you’re going to end up doing in your life is pointless, so why not just get used to it?” I certainly am not the only person wondering about the value of homework. Recently, the sociologist Jessica McCrory Calarco and the mathematics education scholars Ilana Horn and Grace Chen published a paper, “ You Need to Be More Responsible: The Myth of Meritocracy and Teachers’ Accounts of Homework Inequalities .” They argued that while there’s some evidence that homework might help students learn, it also exacerbates inequalities and reinforces what they call the “meritocratic” narrative that says kids who do well in school do so because of “individual competence, effort and responsibility.” The authors believe this meritocratic narrative is a myth and that homework — math homework in particular — further entrenches the myth in the minds of teachers and their students. Calarco, Horn and Chen write, “Research has highlighted inequalities in students’ homework production and linked those inequalities to differences in students’ home lives and in the support students’ families can provide.”

Mr. Kang argues:

But there’s a defense of homework that doesn’t really have much to do with class mobility, equality or any sense of reinforcing the notion of meritocracy. It’s one that became quite clear to me when I was a teacher: Kids need to learn how to practice things. Homework, in many cases, is the only ritualized thing they have to do every day. Even if we could perfectly equalize opportunity in school and empower all students not to be encumbered by the weight of their socioeconomic status or ethnicity, I’m not sure what good it would do if the kids didn’t know how to do something relentlessly, over and over again, until they perfected it. Most teachers know that type of progress is very difficult to achieve inside the classroom, regardless of a student’s background, which is why, I imagine, Calarco, Horn and Chen found that most teachers weren’t thinking in a structural inequalities frame. Holistic ideas of education, in which learning is emphasized and students can explore concepts and ideas, are largely for the types of kids who don’t need to worry about class mobility. A defense of rote practice through homework might seem revanchist at this moment, but if we truly believe that schools should teach children lessons that fall outside the meritocracy, I can’t think of one that matters more than the simple satisfaction of mastering something that you were once bad at. That takes homework and the acknowledgment that sometimes a student can get a question wrong and, with proper instruction, eventually get it right.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

Should we get rid of homework? Why, or why not?

Is homework an outdated, ineffective or counterproductive tool for learning? Do you agree with the authors of the paper that homework is harmful and worsens inequalities that exist between students’ home circumstances?

Or do you agree with Mr. Kang that homework still has real educational value?

When you get home after school, how much homework will you do? Do you think the amount is appropriate, too much or too little? Is homework, including the projects and writing assignments you do at home, an important part of your learning experience? Or, in your opinion, is it not a good use of time? Explain.

In these letters to the editor , one reader makes a distinction between elementary school and high school:

Homework’s value is unclear for younger students. But by high school and college, homework is absolutely essential for any student who wishes to excel. There simply isn’t time to digest Dostoyevsky if you only ever read him in class.

What do you think? How much does grade level matter when discussing the value of homework?

Is there a way to make homework more effective?

If you were a teacher, would you assign homework? What kind of assignments would you give and why?

Want more writing prompts? You can find all of our questions in our Student Opinion column . Teachers, check out this guide to learn how you can incorporate them into your classroom.

Students 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Jeremy Engle joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2018 after spending more than 20 years as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country. More about Jeremy Engle

Is Homework Good for Kids? Here’s What the Research Says

A s kids return to school, debate is heating up once again over how they should spend their time after they leave the classroom for the day.

The no-homework policy of a second-grade teacher in Texas went viral last week , earning praise from parents across the country who lament the heavy workload often assigned to young students. Brandy Young told parents she would not formally assign any homework this year, asking students instead to eat dinner with their families, play outside and go to bed early.

But the question of how much work children should be doing outside of school remains controversial, and plenty of parents take issue with no-homework policies, worried their kids are losing a potential academic advantage. Here’s what you need to know:

For decades, the homework standard has been a “10-minute rule,” which recommends a daily maximum of 10 minutes of homework per grade level. Second graders, for example, should do about 20 minutes of homework each night. High school seniors should complete about two hours of homework each night. The National PTA and the National Education Association both support that guideline.

But some schools have begun to give their youngest students a break. A Massachusetts elementary school has announced a no-homework pilot program for the coming school year, lengthening the school day by two hours to provide more in-class instruction. “We really want kids to go home at 4 o’clock, tired. We want their brain to be tired,” Kelly Elementary School Principal Jackie Glasheen said in an interview with a local TV station . “We want them to enjoy their families. We want them to go to soccer practice or football practice, and we want them to go to bed. And that’s it.”

A New York City public elementary school implemented a similar policy last year, eliminating traditional homework assignments in favor of family time. The change was quickly met with outrage from some parents, though it earned support from other education leaders.

New solutions and approaches to homework differ by community, and these local debates are complicated by the fact that even education experts disagree about what’s best for kids.

The research

The most comprehensive research on homework to date comes from a 2006 meta-analysis by Duke University psychology professor Harris Cooper, who found evidence of a positive correlation between homework and student achievement, meaning students who did homework performed better in school. The correlation was stronger for older students—in seventh through 12th grade—than for those in younger grades, for whom there was a weak relationship between homework and performance.

Cooper’s analysis focused on how homework impacts academic achievement—test scores, for example. His report noted that homework is also thought to improve study habits, attitudes toward school, self-discipline, inquisitiveness and independent problem solving skills. On the other hand, some studies he examined showed that homework can cause physical and emotional fatigue, fuel negative attitudes about learning and limit leisure time for children. At the end of his analysis, Cooper recommended further study of such potential effects of homework.

Despite the weak correlation between homework and performance for young children, Cooper argues that a small amount of homework is useful for all students. Second-graders should not be doing two hours of homework each night, he said, but they also shouldn’t be doing no homework.

Not all education experts agree entirely with Cooper’s assessment.

Cathy Vatterott, an education professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, supports the “10-minute rule” as a maximum, but she thinks there is not sufficient proof that homework is helpful for students in elementary school.

“Correlation is not causation,” she said. “Does homework cause achievement, or do high achievers do more homework?”

Vatterott, the author of Rethinking Homework: Best Practices That Support Diverse Needs , thinks there should be more emphasis on improving the quality of homework tasks, and she supports efforts to eliminate homework for younger kids.

“I have no concerns about students not starting homework until fourth grade or fifth grade,” she said, noting that while the debate over homework will undoubtedly continue, she has noticed a trend toward limiting, if not eliminating, homework in elementary school.

The issue has been debated for decades. A TIME cover in 1999 read: “Too much homework! How it’s hurting our kids, and what parents should do about it.” The accompanying story noted that the launch of Sputnik in 1957 led to a push for better math and science education in the U.S. The ensuing pressure to be competitive on a global scale, plus the increasingly demanding college admissions process, fueled the practice of assigning homework.

“The complaints are cyclical, and we’re in the part of the cycle now where the concern is for too much,” Cooper said. “You can go back to the 1970s, when you’ll find there were concerns that there was too little, when we were concerned about our global competitiveness.”

Cooper acknowledged that some students really are bringing home too much homework, and their parents are right to be concerned.

“A good way to think about homework is the way you think about medications or dietary supplements,” he said. “If you take too little, they’ll have no effect. If you take too much, they can kill you. If you take the right amount, you’ll get better.”

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Adolescent girl doing homework.

What’s the Right Amount of Homework?

Decades of research show that homework has some benefits, especially for students in middle and high school—but there are risks to assigning too much.

Many teachers and parents believe that homework helps students build study skills and review concepts learned in class. Others see homework as disruptive and unnecessary, leading to burnout and turning kids off to school. Decades of research show that the issue is more nuanced and complex than most people think: Homework is beneficial, but only to a degree. Students in high school gain the most, while younger kids benefit much less.

The National PTA and the National Education Association support the “ 10-minute homework guideline ”—a nightly 10 minutes of homework per grade level. But many teachers and parents are quick to point out that what matters is the quality of the homework assigned and how well it meets students’ needs, not the amount of time spent on it.

The guideline doesn’t account for students who may need to spend more—or less—time on assignments. In class, teachers can make adjustments to support struggling students, but at home, an assignment that takes one student 30 minutes to complete may take another twice as much time—often for reasons beyond their control. And homework can widen the achievement gap, putting students from low-income households and students with learning disabilities at a disadvantage.

However, the 10-minute guideline is useful in setting a limit: When kids spend too much time on homework, there are real consequences to consider.

Small Benefits for Elementary Students

As young children begin school, the focus should be on cultivating a love of learning, and assigning too much homework can undermine that goal. And young students often don’t have the study skills to benefit fully from homework, so it may be a poor use of time (Cooper, 1989 ; Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). A more effective activity may be nightly reading, especially if parents are involved. The benefits of reading are clear: If students aren’t proficient readers by the end of third grade, they’re less likely to succeed academically and graduate from high school (Fiester, 2013 ).

For second-grade teacher Jacqueline Fiorentino, the minor benefits of homework did not outweigh the potential drawback of turning young children against school at an early age, so she experimented with dropping mandatory homework. “Something surprising happened: They started doing more work at home,” Fiorentino writes . “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them.” She encouraged her students to read at home and offered optional homework to extend classroom lessons and help them review material.

Moderate Benefits for Middle School Students

As students mature and develop the study skills necessary to delve deeply into a topic—and to retain what they learn—they also benefit more from homework. Nightly assignments can help prepare them for scholarly work, and research shows that homework can have moderate benefits for middle school students (Cooper et al., 2006 ). Recent research also shows that online math homework, which can be designed to adapt to students’ levels of understanding, can significantly boost test scores (Roschelle et al., 2016 ).

There are risks to assigning too much, however: A 2015 study found that when middle school students were assigned more than 90 to 100 minutes of daily homework, their math and science test scores began to decline (Fernández-Alonso, Suárez-Álvarez, & Muñiz, 2015 ). Crossing that upper limit can drain student motivation and focus. The researchers recommend that “homework should present a certain level of challenge or difficulty, without being so challenging that it discourages effort.” Teachers should avoid low-effort, repetitive assignments, and assign homework “with the aim of instilling work habits and promoting autonomous, self-directed learning.”

In other words, it’s the quality of homework that matters, not the quantity. Brian Sztabnik, a veteran middle and high school English teacher, suggests that teachers take a step back and ask themselves these five questions :

  • How long will it take to complete?
  • Have all learners been considered?
  • Will an assignment encourage future success?
  • Will an assignment place material in a context the classroom cannot?
  • Does an assignment offer support when a teacher is not there?

More Benefits for High School Students, but Risks as Well

By the time they reach high school, students should be well on their way to becoming independent learners, so homework does provide a boost to learning at this age, as long as it isn’t overwhelming (Cooper et al., 2006 ; Marzano & Pickering, 2007 ). When students spend too much time on homework—more than two hours each night—it takes up valuable time to rest and spend time with family and friends. A 2013 study found that high school students can experience serious mental and physical health problems, from higher stress levels to sleep deprivation, when assigned too much homework (Galloway, Conner, & Pope, 2013 ).

Homework in high school should always relate to the lesson and be doable without any assistance, and feedback should be clear and explicit.

Teachers should also keep in mind that not all students have equal opportunities to finish their homework at home, so incomplete homework may not be a true reflection of their learning—it may be more a result of issues they face outside of school. They may be hindered by issues such as lack of a quiet space at home, resources such as a computer or broadband connectivity, or parental support (OECD, 2014 ). In such cases, giving low homework scores may be unfair.

Since the quantities of time discussed here are totals, teachers in middle and high school should be aware of how much homework other teachers are assigning. It may seem reasonable to assign 30 minutes of daily homework, but across six subjects, that’s three hours—far above a reasonable amount even for a high school senior. Psychologist Maurice Elias sees this as a common mistake: Individual teachers create homework policies that in aggregate can overwhelm students. He suggests that teachers work together to develop a school-wide homework policy and make it a key topic of back-to-school night and the first parent-teacher conferences of the school year.

Parents Play a Key Role

Homework can be a powerful tool to help parents become more involved in their child’s learning (Walker et al., 2004 ). It can provide insights into a child’s strengths and interests, and can also encourage conversations about a child’s life at school. If a parent has positive attitudes toward homework, their children are more likely to share those same values, promoting academic success.

But it’s also possible for parents to be overbearing, putting too much emphasis on test scores or grades, which can be disruptive for children (Madjar, Shklar, & Moshe, 2015 ). Parents should avoid being overly intrusive or controlling—students report feeling less motivated to learn when they don’t have enough space and autonomy to do their homework (Orkin, May, & Wolf, 2017 ; Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008 ; Silinskas & Kikas, 2017 ). So while homework can encourage parents to be more involved with their kids, it’s important to not make it a source of conflict.

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The role of homework

Homework seems to be an accepted part of teachers’ and students’ routines, but there is little mention of it in ELT literature.

why teachers use homework

The role of homework is hardly mentioned in the majority of general ELT texts or training courses, suggesting that there is little question as to its value even if the resulting workload is time-consuming. However, there is clearly room for discussion of homework policies and practices particularly now that technology has made so many more resources available to learners outside the classroom.

Reasons for homework

  • Attitudes to homework
  • Effective homework
  • Types of homework
  • Homework is expected by students, teachers, parents and institutions.
  • Homework reinforces and helps learners to retain information taught in the classroom as well as increasing their general understanding of the language.
  • Homework develops study habits and independent learning. It also encourages learners to acquire resources such as dictionaries and grammar reference books. Research shows that homework also benefits factual knowledge, self-discipline, attitudes to learning and problem-solving skills.
  • Homework offers opportunities for extensive activities in the receptive skills which there may not be time for in the classroom. It may also be an integral part of ongoing learning such as project work and the use of a graded reader.
  • Homework provides continuity between lessons. It may be used to consolidate classwork, but also for preparation for the next lesson.
  • Homework may be used to shift repetitive, mechanical, time-consuming tasks out of the classroom.
  • Homework bridges the gap between school and home. Students, teachers and parents can monitor progress. The institution can involve parents in the learning process.
  • Homework can be a useful assessment tool, as part of continual or portfolio assessment.

Attitudes to homework Teachers tend to have mixed feelings about homework. While recognising the advantages, they observe negative attitudes and poor performance from students. Marking and giving useful feedback on homework can take up a large proportion of a teacher’s time, often after school hours.

  • Students themselves complain that the homework they are given is boring or pointless, referring to homework tasks that consist of studying for tests, doing workbook exercises, finishing incomplete classwork, memorising lists of vocabulary and writing compositions. Where this is actually the case, the negative effects of homework can be observed, typified by loss of interest and a view of homework as a form of punishment.
  • Other negative effects of poorly managed homework include lack of necessary leisure time and an increased differential between high and low achievers. These problems are often the cause of avoidance techniques such as completing homework tasks in class, collaborating and copying or simply not doing the required tasks. In turn, conflict may arise between learners, teachers, parents and the institution.

Effective homework In order for homework to be effective, certain principles should be observed.

  • Students should see the usefulness of homework. Teachers should explain the purpose both of homework in general and of individual tasks.
  • Tasks should be relevant, interesting and varied.
  • Good classroom practice also applies to homework. Tasks should be manageable but achievable.
  • Different tasks may be assigned to different ability groups. Individual learning styles should be taken into account.
  • Homework should be manageable in terms of time as well as level of difficulty. Teachers should remember that students are often given homework in other subjects and that there is a need for coordination to avoid overload. A homework diary, kept by the learner but checked by teachers and parents is a useful tool in this respect.
  • Homework is rarely co-ordinated within the curriculum as a whole, but should at least be incorporated into an overall scheme of work and be considered in lesson planning.
  • Homework tends to focus on a written product. There is no reason why this should be the case, other than that there is visible evidence that the task has been done.
  • Learner involvement and motivation may be increased by encouraging students to contribute ideas for homework and possibly design their own tasks. The teacher also needs to know how much time the students have, what facilities they have at home, and what their preferences are. A simple questionnaire will provide this data.
  • While homework should consolidate classwork, it should not replicate it. Home is the outside world and tasks which are nearer to real-life use of language are appropriate.
  • If homework is set, it must be assessed in some way, and feedback given. While marking by the teacher is sometimes necessary, peer and self-assessment can encourage learner independence as well as reducing the teacher’s workload. Motivating students to do homework is an ongoing process, and encouragement may be given by commenting and asking questions either verbally or in written form in order to demonstrate interest on the teacher’s part, particularly in the case of self-study and project work.

Types of homework There are a number of categories of useful and practicable homework tasks.

  • Workbook-based tasks Most published course materials include a workbook or practice book, mainly including consolidation exercises, short reading texts and an answer key. Most workbooks claim to be suitable for both class and self-study use, but are better used at home in order to achieve a separation of what is done in class and at home. Mechanical practice is thus shifted out of class hours, while this kind of exercise is particularly suited to peer- or self-checking and correction.
  • Preparation tasks Rarely do teachers ask learners to read through the next unit of a coursebook, though there are advantages in involving students in the lesson plan and having them know what is coming. More motivating, however, is asking students to find and bring materials such as photographs and pictures, magazine articles and realia which are relevant to the next topic, particularly where personalisation or relevance to the local context requires adaptation of course materials.
  • Extensive tasks Much can be gained from the use of graded readers, which now often have accompanying audio material, radio and TV broadcasts, podcasts and songs. Sometimes tasks need to be set as guidance, but learners also need to be encouraged to read, listen and watch for pleasure. What is important is that learners share their experiences in class. Extensive reading and listening may be accompanied by dictionary work and a thematic or personalised vocabulary notebook, whereby learners can collect language which they feel is useful.
  • Guided discovery tasks Whereas classroom teaching often involves eliciting language patterns and rules from learners, there is also the option of asking learners to notice language and make deductions for themselves at home. This leads to the sharing of knowledge and even peer teaching in the classroom.
  • Real-world tasks These involve seeing, hearing and putting language to use in realistic contexts. Reading magazines, watching TV, going to the cinema and listening to songs are obvious examples, offering the option of writing summaries and reviews as follow-up activities. Technology facilitates chat and friendship networks, while even in monolingual environments, walking down a shopping street noticing shop and brand names will reveal a lot of language. As with extensive tasks, it is important for learners to share their experiences, and perhaps to collect them in a formal or informal portfolio.
  • Project work It is a good idea to have a class or individual projects running over a period of time. Projects may be based on topics from a coursebook, the locality, interests and hobbies or selected individually. Project work needs to be guided in terms of where to find resources and monitored regularly, the outcome being a substantial piece of work at the end of a course or term of which the learner can claim ownership.

Conclusion Finally, a word about the Internet. The Web appears to offer a wealth of opportunity for self-study. Certainly reference resources make project work easier and more enjoyable, but cutting and pasting can also be seen as an easy option, requiring little originality or understanding. Conferring over homework tasks by email can be positive or negative, though chatting with an English-speaking friend is to be encouraged, as is searching for visual materials. Both teachers and learners are guilty of trawling the Net for practice exercises, some of which are untried, untested and dubious in terms of quality. Learners need guidance, and a starting point is to provide a short list of reliable sites such as the British Council's  LearnEnglish  and the BBC's Learning English  which provide a huge variety of exercises and activities as well as links to other reliable sources. Further reading Cooper, H. Synthesis of Research on Homework . Educational Leadership 47/3, 1989 North, S. and Pillay, H. Homework: re-examining the routin e. ELT Journal 56/2, April 2002 Painter, L. Homework . English Teaching Professional, Issue 10, 1999 Painter, L. Homework . OUP Resource Books for Teachers, 2003

First published in October 2007

Mr. Steve Darn I liked your…

Mr. Steve Darn I liked your method of the role of the homework . Well, I am one of those laggard people. Unfortunately, when it comes to homework, I definitely do it. Because, a student or pupil who understands new topics, of course, does his homework to know how much he understands the new topic. I also completely agree with all of Steve Darn's points above. However, sometimes teachers give a lot of riff-raff homework, just like homework is a human obligation. This is a plus. But in my opinion, first of all, it is necessary to divide the time properly, and then to do many tasks at home. Only then will you become an "excellent student" in the eyes of the teacher. Although we live in the age of technology, there are still some people who do not know how to send homework via email. Some foreign teachers ask to send tasks by email. Constant email updates require time and, in rare cases, a fee. My above points have been the cause of constant discussions.

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A Teacher's Defense of Homework

If I didn't assign it, I'd never get through all the material I need to cover in a year. Plus, giving kids projects and deadlines is an essential way of preparing them for adulthood.

why teachers use homework

I am a parent, and I struggle daily with making sure my daughter does her homework. I can certainly identify with the anxiety Karl Taro Greenfeld describes in his essay “ My Daughter’s Homework Is Killing Me .” Here, however, I’d like to speak as a teacher rather than a parent. I’d like to explain why, in my professional opinion, American kids need homework.

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I teach biology at the Charles School, a five-year early-college high school in Columbus, Ohio. I believe that my job is to prepare my students for college. In order to do that, I teach a wide variety of topics including cells, genetics, evolution, and ecology, using the National Science Standards . I teach each topic in depth so that the students understand and appreciate the information. I teach them about the scientific method, lab procedures, and scientific writing, all skills they will need in college. It’s a lot to fit into one short year, and my class requires a lot of effort from my students.

I require my students to read one chapter out of their textbook each week, and to complete a short take-home quiz on the material. It helps to supplement the notes I give in class, so that I can spend more class time on labs and other hands-on activities. I learned in college that hands-on work is the best way for students to learn, and that’s certainly true. However, it’s definitely not the most efficient way. So, if I’m going to offer interactive activities in class, I need students to put in some time and effort studying outside of class as well.

Other than the reading, most of the homework students bring home from my class is left over from the day’s activity. I often give time at the end of class so that students can begin on work when I’m there to help them. Our dean calls it “buying in”:  Students are much more likely to finish an assignment at home if I can convince them to start it in class. Unfortunately, many kids choose to socialize when I give them time to work on their own.  The students always say, “I’ll just do this for homework” and neglect to get much, if any, of the assignment done in class.  Then, they come home with a pile of homework, which many parents assume the teachers assigned at the end of class.

A few times a year, I require students to write a scientific paper. We spend a significant amount of time on these assignments at school, but effort outside of class is required as well. And I think that’s great. Schoolwork prepares students for work-related tasks, financial planning, and any project that ends with the feeling of a job well done. Long-term planning, projects, and deadlines are a key part of adulthood.

Nevertheless, some parents think their kids are getting too much work. One argument, which Greenfeld uses, is to compare American students with those in other countries. In his article, Greenfeld cites the fact that students in many overseas countries are scoring higher than American children, while being assigned less homework. He uses Japan as an example. In 2011, Japan was ranked fourth in science scores in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study . But according to a study cited in Greenfeld’s article, Japanese students are actually assigned less homework by their teachers. Why, then, do they achieve more? The answer comes when you look at the differences in our cultures and our views on education. Japanese teachers may not be assigning much homework, but it turns out that Japanese kids are doing plenty of homework anyway.   

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I spoke with Chris Spackman, who is the English as a Second Language coordinator at my school. Chris taught for 13 years in Japan, and served on the Board of Education in the city of Kanazawa. I asked him why Japanese kids are scoring so high on achievement tests despite having relatively little homework. “Because Japanese kids go to juku ,” he answered. He went on to explain that juku is a common after-school program that prepares Japanese kids for achievement testing. In Japan, senior high school is not required or guaranteed.  Instead, students compete for spots at prestigious high schools by scoring high on achievement tests.  “Some schools are for art, or college prep,” says Chris.  “You have to study hard in junior high to get into the high school that you want.”  In high school, Japanese kids continue to go to juku so that they can get into the college they want as well. So, Japanese kids do academic work outside of school, just not necessarily work assigned by their classroom teacher.

There is room for compromise on the homework debate. In their book Reforming Homework , Richard Walker and Mike Horsley state that while homework isn’t very beneficial for younger kids, it’s still beneficial for older students. I agree. I’ve learned, while preparing my students to start college early, that study skills become much more important than they were in primary school.  It’s also important for teachers to assign work that’s high in quality, instead of quantity.  The vast majority of teachers I know are careful to only assign work that’s important for student success.  Remember, teachers have to grade all of these assignments – we wouldn’t want to spend extra time grading papers that have no value.

In the comments on Greenfeld’s article, some readers assume that teachers don’t have our students’ best interests at heart. But usually, teachers who aren’t incredibly devoted to their students don’t last in the profession. The teachers who do stay are committed to giving the best education to their students. We wouldn’t be assigning that homework, giving that test, or reading that book if we didn’t truly believe it was worthwhile. All we ask is that you trust us, just a little.

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School Life Balance , Tips for Online Students

The Pros and Cons of Homework

Updated: June 5, 2024

Published: January 23, 2020


Homework is a word that most students dread hearing. After hours upon hours of sitting in class , the last thing we want is more schoolwork over our precious weekends. While it’s known to be a staple of traditional schooling, homework has also become a rather divise topic. Some feel as though homework is a necessary part of school, while others believe that the time could be better invested. Should students have homework? Have a closer look into the arguments on both sides to decide for yourself.

A college student completely swamped with homework.

Photo by  energepic.com  from  Pexels

Why should students have homework.

Homework has been a long-standing part of the education system. It helps reinforce what students learn in the classroom, encourages good study habits, and promotes a deeper understanding of subjects. Studies have shown that homework can improve students’ grades and skills. Here are some reasons why homework is important:

1. Homework Encourages Practice

Many people believe that one of the positive effects of homework is that it encourages the discipline of practice. While it may be time consuming and boring compared to other activities, repetition is needed to get better at skills. Homework helps make concepts more clear, and gives students more opportunities when starting their career .

2. Homework Gets Parents Involved

Homework can be something that gets parents involved in their children’s lives if the environment is a healthy one. A parent helping their child with homework makes them take part in their academic success, and allows for the parent to keep up with what the child is doing in school. It can also be a chance to connect together.

3. Homework Teaches Time Management

Homework is much more than just completing the assigned tasks. Homework can develop time management skills , forcing students to plan their time and make sure that all of their homework assignments are done on time. By learning to manage their time, students also practice their problem-solving skills and independent thinking. One of the positive effects of homework is that it forces decision making and compromises to be made.

4. Homework Opens A Bridge Of Communication

Homework creates a connection between the student, the teacher, the school, and the parents. It allows everyone to get to know each other better, and parents can see where their children are struggling. In the same sense, parents can also see where their children are excelling. Homework in turn can allow for a better, more targeted educational plan for the student.

5. Homework Allows For More Learning Time

Homework allows for more time to complete the learning process. School hours are not always enough time for students to really understand core concepts, and homework can counter the effects of time shortages, benefiting students in the long run, even if they can’t see it in the moment.

6. Homework Reduces Screen Time

Many students in North America spend far too many hours watching TV. If they weren’t in school, these numbers would likely increase even more. Although homework is usually undesired, it encourages better study habits and discourages spending time in front of the TV. Homework can be seen as another extracurricular activity, and many families already invest a lot of time and money in different clubs and lessons to fill up their children’s extra time. Just like extracurricular activities, homework can be fit into one’s schedule.

A female student who doesn’t want to do homework.

The Other Side: Why Homework Is Bad

While homework has its benefits, there are also many arguments against it. Some believe that homework can cause increased stress, limit time for extracurricular activities, and reduce family time. Studies and expert opinions highlight the drawbacks of too much homework, showing how it can negatively affect students’ well-being and academic experience. Here are some reasons why homework might be bad:

1. Homework Encourages A Sedentary Lifestyle

Should students have homework? Well, that depends on where you stand. There are arguments both for the advantages and the disadvantages of homework.

While classroom time is important, playground time is just as important. If children are given too much homework, they won’t have enough playtime, which can impact their social development and learning. Studies have found that those who get more play get better grades in school , as it can help them pay closer attention in the classroom.

Children are already sitting long hours in the classroom, and homework assignments only add to these hours. Sedentary lifestyles can be dangerous and can cause health problems such as obesity. Homework takes away from time that could be spent investing in physical activity.

2. Homework Isn’t Healthy In Every Home

While many people that think homes are a beneficial environment for children to learn, not all homes provide a healthy environment, and there may be very little investment from parents. Some parents do not provide any kind of support or homework help, and even if they would like to, due to personal barriers, they sometimes cannot. Homework can create friction between children and their parents, which is one of the reasons why homework is bad .

3. Homework Adds To An Already Full-Time Job

School is already a full-time job for students, as they generally spend over 6 hours each day in class. Students also often have extracurricular activities such as sports, music, or art that are just as important as their traditional courses. Adding on extra hours to all of these demands is a lot for children to manage, and prevents students from having extra time to themselves for a variety of creative endeavors. Homework prevents self discovery and having the time to learn new skills outside of the school system. This is one of the main disadvantages of homework.

4. Homework Has Not Been Proven To Provide Results

Endless surveys have found that homework creates a negative attitude towards school, and homework has not been found to be linked to a higher level of academic success.

The positive effects of homework have not been backed up enough. While homework may help some students improve in specific subjects, if they have outside help there is no real proof that homework makes for improvements.

It can be a challenge to really enforce the completion of homework, and students can still get decent grades without doing their homework. Extra school time does not necessarily mean better grades — quality must always come before quantity.

Accurate practice when it comes to homework simply isn’t reliable. Homework could even cause opposite effects if misunderstood, especially since the reliance is placed on the student and their parents — one of the major reasons as to why homework is bad. Many students would rather cheat in class to avoid doing their homework at home, and children often just copy off of each other or from what they read on the internet.

5. Homework Assignments Are Overdone

The general agreement is that students should not be given more than 10 minutes a day per grade level. What this means is that a first grader should be given a maximum of 10 minutes of homework, while a second grader receives 20 minutes, etc. Many students are given a lot more homework than the recommended amount, however.

On average, college students spend as much as 3 hours per night on homework . By giving too much homework, it can increase stress levels and lead to burn out. This in turn provides an opposite effect when it comes to academic success.

The pros and cons of homework are both valid, and it seems as though the question of ‘‘should students have homework?’ is not a simple, straightforward one. Parents and teachers often are found to be clashing heads, while the student is left in the middle without much say.

It’s important to understand all the advantages and disadvantages of homework, taking both perspectives into conversation to find a common ground. At the end of the day, everyone’s goal is the success of the student.

FAQ Section

What are the benefits of assigning homework to students.

Homework reinforces what students learn in the classroom, helps develop good study habits, and promotes a deeper understanding of subjects. It also encourages practice, improves time management skills, and encourages parents to participate in their children’s education.

How much homework is too much for students?

Generally, it is recommended that students receive no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade level per day. For example, a first grader should have no more than 10 minutes of homework, while a fifth grader should have no more than 50 minutes.

What are the potential drawbacks of excessive homework assignments?

Excessive homework can lead to increased stress, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of free time for extracurricular activities, and diminished family time. It can also create a negative attitude towards school and learning.

How does homework impact students’ stress levels and well-being?

Too much homework can significantly increase stress levels and negatively affect students’ well-being. It can lead to anxiety, burnout, and reduced time for physical activity and relaxation.

Does homework promote independent thinking and problem-solving skills?

Yes, homework can promote independent thinking and problem-solving skills by encouraging students to tackle assignments on their own, manage their time effectively, and find solutions to problems without immediate assistance from teachers.

Are there any long-term effects of excessive homework on students?

Excessive homework over long periods can lead to chronic stress, burnout, and a negative attitude towards education. It can also hinder the development of social skills and reduce opportunities for self-discovery and creative pursuits.

How can technology enhance or supplement traditional homework practices?

Technology can provide interactive and engaging ways to complete homework, such as educational apps, online resources, and virtual collaboration tools. It can also offer personalized learning experiences and immediate feedback.

Are there any innovative approaches to homework that schools are adopting?

Some schools are adopting innovative approaches like flipped classrooms, where students watch lectures at home and do hands-on classroom activities. Project-based learning and personalized assignments tailored to individual student needs are also becoming more popular.

How do educators balance the workload with diverse student needs?

Educators can balance the workload by differentiating assignments, considering the individual needs and abilities of students, and providing flexible deadlines. Communication with students and parents helps to ensure that homework is manageable and effective for everyone.

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Classroom Q&A

With larry ferlazzo.

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.

What Students Want From Their Teachers, in Their Own Words

why teachers use homework

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Today’s post is the latest in a multiyear series in which students answer the question:

What has been your best experience in the classroom, and what action or actions did a teacher take to help you make it happen (if they did)? Please be specific. What can other teachers learn from this experience?

Be Considerate

Dayannie Espinoza is a junior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, Calif.:

One of my best classroom experiences was my 9th grade PE class. This says a lot because physical education has never really been my best subject. I’m not athletic in the slightest and I’m not a sports person. However, my 9th grade PE teacher made my PE experience enjoyable.

My freshman year, I had PE first period, so you would expect that to be awful for me since it was bright and early in the morning. This teacher was very good at his job. He was chill but wasn’t fully laid back to the point he let us do whatever we wanted. He still had set expectations for us, and it was his goal for us to reach them.

One thing I don’t like is when teachers force us to do things that we genuinely don’t feel comfortable doing. This teacher never really forced us to do anything we didn’t want to do, but with his teaching methods, we never felt forced to do his work, we genuinely wanted to.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being in a co-ed PE class with a bunch of boys, it’s that they take everything as a die-hard competition. As someone who is willing to do the work but hates being judged by the boys if I didn’t pass a ball well enough or was too slow, I loved the fact that my teacher had two separate groups for us. The try-hard group: the ones who genuinely enjoyed a sport and were supercompetitive and the noncompetitive but were still willing to do the work group.

We always had a choice in which group we wanted to be in and we still got points because either way we were participating and practicing our skills for that unit. I don’t like having to always play sports and feel like my life depended on it, but my teacher freshman year made us feel comfortable in his class and didn’t force us to, which I’m extremely grateful for.

I believe that teachers can learn to be more considerate of their students. I understand that this method may not work for all classes, but this is definitely what helped me pass this class and didn’t make me dread going to class everyday.


Making A Connection

Jasmin Lopez-Hernandez is a 9th grader at Luther Burbank High School:

In my opinion, school is boring overall, but there is one class I never thought I would like, and that class is theater.

I’m pretty sure it might just be the teacher. She always has little activities in her class that she will make you do. The only difference is that she lets us do it at our own speed, she doesn’t rush us like other teachers.

She doesn’t seem like a teacher to us—she seems more like an older sister or like a friend but still have a lot of respect toward her.

I think trying to connect with your students gets your students to like you or just feel like you’re there for them.


Starting Small

Sydney Syda is a junior at Luther Burbank High:

My best experience in the classroom is group work because it has improved my collaborative/community skills with others. One teacher made this happen by assigning a lot of group work and had us present in small groups, which is a good way to start off slow and made me feel more comfortable presenting in front of the class. We also slowly got to know other students without being forced.

Other teachers I had, they would speed through things and barely prepared us for anything, it was more of hurrying and getting things done, which was a lot harder to process and build relationships with them.

The things teachers can learn from this is that forcing students to share in front of the class all the time will not always help them get better but scare them and make them more anxious than how they were when they started.

Some people have a different pace when feeling comfortable expressing themselves, especially with a large group of people, so all this group work helps them slowly get to know one another and build a community.

At first, I didn’t like the thought of presenting, but as I got to present in small groups, it has made me less fearful of presenting in front of the class. It has also helped me build a bond with my classmates and have comfortability, which I have always struggled with. Also, the way his class is structured and the positive attitude/environment he has for his students really plays a part in this. He is the only teacher who has ever made me feel comfortable speaking, and I have spoken more in his class than all my other years of school.


Omar Melchor is a senior at Luther Burbank High:

My best experience in the classroom probably had to be this year in 7th period (after-school) guitar class. I was having some fun playing some music with my friends and I can tell that one of my friends was struggling playing chords.

Then Mr. Green began telling my friend how he should position his fingers on the fretboard of his guitar. Though my friend struggled at first, he eventually got the hang of it. Though this experience wasn’t happening directly to me, it was still a really good experience from a teacher since Mr. Green treated them with the utmost patience.

I remember Mr. Green saying that “everything takes its own time for everyone,” and this quote stuck with me because it’s something that I could apply outside of school and it could be on anything, not just music.

I believe that all teachers should have that level of patience for their students even if they can’t grasp the material in their first try. Another thing that teachers could learn from this is that it’s good to be adaptable. Not all students have the same skill sets so its good to be flexible around that.


Thanks to Dayannie, Jasmin, Sydney, and Omar for contributing their thoughts.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected] . When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo .

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email . And if you missed any of the highlights from the first 12 years of this blog, you can see a categorized list here .

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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Teacher Explains Why Allowing Some Kids To Turn In Late Work Isn't Unfair To Other Students – ‘It's Not About Them'

Does allowing late work in school incentivize laziness in students.

  • Zayda Slabbekoorn

Written on Jun 05, 2024

high school student walking through hallway with her friends and looking at camera.

Teacher Jen, known as  @strategicclassroom on TikTok , uses her platform to share tips for educators and experience in the classroom — in hopes of creating a safer, more equitable space for students and teachers to learn and grow. 

Even the most controversial topics — which seemingly is allowing late work — are topics she indulges in, reminding teachers of the true meaning of their profession: advocating for students.

She argued that by accepting late work from some students in her classroom, she was giving them an opportunity to grow — not pitting them against their peers who were able to turn the work in on time.

“Students do work late or don’t do work at all for a variety of reasons,” she argued, “and regardless of the choices we make about penalties, there will still be students who turn in work late or don’t do their work at all. So what can we control as educators?”

This teacher said she lets some of her students turn in late work despite opinions arguing it’s "unfair" to other kids in the class.

@strategicclassroom Replying to @jlm52247 addressing root causes of late work #teachertok #instructortok #classroommanagement #latework ♬ original sound - Jen | Teacher Time Hacks

RELATED: High School Teacher Says Students Cry When Asked To Read Out Loud – 'Feeding Into These Moods Is Decreasing Resilience’

Her recent video on late work seems to be in response to several comments on her page arguing that allowing late work incentivizes students to be “lazy” and sends “harmful messages” to other students in the class about acceptable behavior.

“As educators, we need to be really purposeful about the meaning of our work beyond just the grade,” she said, arguing that many teachers are hyper-focused on recordable progress rather than human progress. “What are they going to get out of it? How does it play into the long-term mastery of the course? If there’s a deadline, we need to explain why the deadline is what it is.”

The classroom isn’t a dictatorship — it shouldn’t be an uncomfortable space where teachers exercise an unyielding amount of control over their students. It should be a safe space for learning where students feel comfortable building a trusting relationship with their teacher and are comfortable asking for help or grace when they need it.

high school students working on assignment in class

For many kids, the classroom is the only stable environment they have — punishing them for uniqueness, struggles, or distractions isn’t always the right move.

“Grades are a way to communicate progress in a course between the teacher and the student… and the student’s parents, if they’re under 18.” She continued on to explain that, "Grades are not a way to pit students against each other. I don't subscribe to the school of thought that giving students grace harms other students.”

She argued that allowing late assignments isn’t putting other students at any kind of disadvantage — ‘It’s not about them.'

“Grades impact the individual, not the rest of the class,” she adds. “Anytime I talk about late work or not penalizing late assignments, there are always people in the comments who say, ‘What about the students who did it on time?’ My answer is that it’s not about them.”

@strategicclassroom Replying to @Tiktokgavemenousename here’s why offering grace to one student isn’t at the expense of others. #teachertok #grading #assessment ♬ original sound - Jen | Teacher Time Hacks

RELATED: Student Accuses Teacher Of ‘Hater Behavior’ After Receiving A 55% On An Assignment That Was Less Than Halfway Done

One in 14 students loses a parent while in school.  37% of students experience anxiety disorders, 15% report they’ve considered ending their life, and 29% admit they are  essentially a primary caregiver for people in their families. School, completing assignments, and meeting deadlines are not always a priority for students — oftentimes, coming to school is more about socializing, finding an escape, and enjoying carefree companionship than class.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many teachers come to terms with when they start their careers, but it’s a simple fact that’s essential to understand. You can’t truly teach students or help them master material without understanding what’s going on behind the scenes, whether that’s in their personal lives at home or with other peers in the classroom.

Especially with rigid curriculums and unique learning struggles, this teacher provides grace where she can — ‘My job is to help students learn.’

Over  4 million students in the U.S. alone struggle with learning disabilities that impact their educational performance — whether intellectually in the classroom or socially with other students. While many districts attempt to use unique curriculums and learning plans to support those students, many still struggle to keep up with their peers in the classrooms.

@eduleadership Does accepting late work set students up for failure, or give them a chance to succeed? #education #teachersoftiktok #principalsoftiktok #edleadership ♬ original sound - Justin Baeder, PhD

Many teachers consider “general policies” for late work to be discouraging and harmful in the classroom — oftentimes incentivizing a kind of expectation that might allow students to fall behind on coursework easier than a general “ban” might. However, as  educator Justin Baeder admits on TikTok , there’s almost always a personal reason why students fall behind on work or struggle to submit assignments on time — allowing late work can help to support them in catching up.

Discourse about the profession often reminds people that teachers carry the burden of more than just teaching — helping to support mental health struggles with their students, learning disabilities, and personal life events at home are just a few of those things. In allowing late work in unique scenarios, teachers create an easy loophole to help support these struggling students — giving them an opportunity to heal, grow, and track their progress in the classroom without automatically condemning them for falling behind on rigid deadlines.

Tired student sitting at their desk.

“I don’t penalize executive dysfunction or taking longer to learn something,” Jen added, “because for me, that is not the point of grades…at the K-12 or even the undergrad level, one student’s grade does not impact anybody else. It’s simply a tool for communication.”

Especially considering students’ grades are often used as a barometer for tracking a teacher’s success in the classroom — which, in some cases, can be problematic — it’s in everyone’s best interest to take a step back and think about what’s best for every student. How can we help support struggling students in learning and growing without continuously reprimanding them for falling behind?

RELATED: Teacher Appalled That She's Required To Give A 50% On Assignments Not Turned In — ‘This Isn't Preparing Kids For The Real World’

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.

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How Will Artificial Intelligence (AI) Affect Children?

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By: Tiffany Munzer, MD, FAAP

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the way we work, play and communicate. While AI has potential to help solve complex problems, you've likely also heard serious concerns about it—and especially, the ways AI might change the lives of children and teens.

With so many viewpoints out there, how can you make sense of AI and its possible impact on your family? Let's start by looking at how AI works and what issues that parents and families may need to consider as the technology evolves.

What exactly is artificial intelligence? How does AI work?

AI is modeled on the human brain —how we gather facts, descriptions, comments, images and much more and make sense of it all to complete a specific task. The difference is that AI draws the input together, sorting it and making it immediately accessible to us. However, unlike human knowledge, it doesn’t have the ability to connect new information to all of our other life experiences.

AI technology has been in development since the mid-1950s. Thanks to recent breakthroughs, though, AI-driven tools are quickly becoming part of our everyday lives. For example, when you contact customer service, AI may help answer your questions. When you explore international news, the words you hear or read may be translated into your preferred language by AI. In your doctor's office, an AI speech recognition program may help the medical team take notes and update your chart.

On a larger scale, AI is used to study traffic safety and flow, for example, and analyze health risks in large populations.

What about the AI that some kids use to do their homework?

Generative AI is technology that creates content that in the past could come only from humans. For example, instead of sitting down to draft a report, a writer might use ChatGPT to come up with relevant facts and suggested wording. An artist might create what looks like an original photo or drawing by entering a short description into an AI-driven program.

It's easy to see why some kids use AI to help them with school assignments. They can find facts and search among millions of charts and images to learn more about a subject. AI also powers grammar programs that can check their work to fix writing errors. Schools have rules about how AI can be used for homework and writing, though, so it’s important to check with teachers. Teens also need to learn to be honest about when they used AI with assignments.

AI is all around us—and all about us

Even if your kids aren't using AI for portions of their schoolwork, they (and you) are coming in contact with AI every day. Your children, and your family as a whole, have a digital footprint . This may be made up of every online search, purchase, download or viewing and listening session you engage in. If you use an AI-driven smart speaker to answer questions about the weather, sports scores and more, you're feeding even more data into this collective footprint.

How are kids tapping into AI?

As child health experts at UNICEF have pointed out, kids around the world use AI almost daily. Most interactive toys, games and internet platforms made for children depend on AI technology. Even though AI is advancing faster than anyone expected, most nations have not considered how AI will affect the social and emotional well-being of children.

Much more research is needed, but early studies on AI and kids point to several concerns:

  • Young children may share personal information with AI platforms . Studies show that little ones often chat with smart speakers , telling personal stories and disclosing details that grownups might consider private.
  • They may assume AI platforms are a lot like people. One study found that kids between 3 and 6 years old believed that smart speakers had thoughts, feelings and social abilities. Only a few kids assumed the speakers were actually human. This could affect how kids learn to interact with others.
  • They may trust AI more than they trust humans. Another study found that young children thought smart speakers were more reliable than people when it came to answering fact-based questions such as, "Who was the first U.S. president to drive a car?"
  • Many teens use AI daily. Adolescents are big fans of generative AI that helps them write essays and reports and create images and video for social sharing (among hundreds of other possible uses). However, only 1 in 4 parents whose teens use AI are aware they're doing it, a recent poll shows.

What are the benefits of AI for kids and families?

There are many ways AI technology can help kids learn and grow.

  • It's a valuable tool for learning. AI can be used to tailor lessons and learning experiences to the individual needs of young children and teens. It can help educators and parents find ways to enrich learning for kids of all abilities at different stages of growth and development. And while it's not a good substitute for live conversation, it can help children improve their language skills and even learn new languages.
  • It can foster creativity. We live in a visual world, so kids need ways to express their ideas through photos, images, graphs and more. AI is not only valuable to budding artists, but also kids who want to create data displays, charts, simple cartoons and other visuals.
  • It may motivate and engage kids in new ways . AI can be interactive and fun for kids, offering new ways to enjoy and explore their world. For some, this may be a life-changing experience that opens new doors, enhances school performance and helps prepare them for the challenges of adult life.

What are potential dangers of AI for our kids?

For all the promise they hold, AI platforms can also harm children and families.

  • They can spread hate, bias and stereotypes . Because AI "learns" from everything it finds on the internet, AI platforms reflect the same prejudices that threaten to divide and alienate us. Extensive studies show that AI-generated content advances stereotypes and falsehoods. Adults must be ready to talk with kids about what they see online and how it might reinforce negative beliefs and actions.
  • They can erode privacy. AI collects a huge amount of data about us, often without us knowing it. For example, one toy was found to record conversations among parents, kids and anyone else nearby, with the ability to transmit data from these conversations to third parties. It's hard to keep up with reports on toys and devices that could violate your family's privacy, but parents may want to avoid interactive toys that promise to "talk" with kids.
  • They can flood kids with selling messages. AI follows us on the internet, making note of what we like and serving us more of the same. Your child's search history may make them the target of relentless ad campaigns you would prefer they not see.

They can be used for bullying and fraud. Generative AI can be used to create false or distorted images of your child or teen, or someone they know. One example: the fake nudes that have been used to attack and shame many teens. Deepfakes and voice cloning can be used to threaten kids into taking actions they ordinarily would never consider, like giving private information or sending money. (See " What Do Teens Need to Know About Sextortion and Online Predators .")

Are lawmakers taking action to protect us?

It's clear that AI is here to stay. But in the U.S., legislation hasn't kept pace with technological growth.

  • The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) protects kids 13 years and younger by restricting access and usage of personal information about them that can be found online. However, since its passage in the late 1990s, COPPA has been routinely violated by media companies, manufacturers and others. Further, it isn't clear whether ChatGPT and other generative platforms comply with COPPA regulations.
  • The Kids Online Safety Act , first introduced in 2021 and still moving through Congress, would require social media platforms to protect the data of minor-aged children. However, this legislation doesn't address the data that web service providers, email services and educational institutions can gather about our kids.
  • An executive order on AI may serve as a guideline for future laws, but regulations that spell out what organizations can and can't do with AI technology do not exist yet.

What can I do to safeguard my child from the risks of AI?

AI is a moving target, so you may find it hard to set healthy guidelines for your child or teen. Here are a few common-sense suggestions for you to consider. You can also share them with teachers, coaches, neighbors and community leaders who work with your child.

  • Talk to your kids about AI. Tailor what you say to your child's age and level of understanding.
  • You don't want to frighten a young child, but you can make them aware that the smart speaker in your kitchen is not the same as a trusted friend. Talk about the differences between people and digital assistants—or between live conversations with friends and family and chatting on social media. Draw examples from your own life so your child gains a sense of how you practice online safety.
  • With teens, aim for an open discussion about privacy, bias, bullying and other online safety issues. Don't preach—and don't try to cover every aspect of AI all at once. Ask them for their opinions and keep an open mind. This can prompt discussions that will help you learn together.
  • Teach older kids how to manage online privacy . Explain how they can manage cookies, clear browsing histories and block social media users or marketers whose messages they choose not to see. Emphasize that this is something all online users should know—and offer a few examples of how you protect your own privacy.
  • Try AI together. Consider testing out an AI-driven app like ChatGPT or Facetune together with your kids. This can give you the chance to discuss how it works and point out any issues that concern you. Common Sense Media offers reviews that help you choose platforms to test-drive as a family.
  • Encourage curiosity and critical thinking. Challenge your kids to look for signs of bias in online content. For example, you can make a game out of spotting things that seem real vs. those that appear to be fake. Ask kids where they think the information or images are coming from. Does the person, company or group sharing them have a goal in mind? What reasons do we have to trust (or distrust) the sender?
  • Talk about plagiarism. In a time when anyone can cut and paste content and pass it off as their own, kids need to understand the concept of original work. Explain how they can use online information as a jumping-off point for their own thinking. Make sure they understand that copying or presenting the words, images and ideas of others without giving them credit is wrong (and often illegal). Continue the conversation as you kids grow.

The future of AI & protecting kids

We have a long way to go in realizing the benefits of AI while also protecting our kids from the risks it might pose. The guardrails we need should reflect the tremendous power of AI to shape our everyday lives.

Ongoing dialogue should bring families together with schools, health care providers, sports and arts organizations and other community organizations, so we can help kids benefit from AI while minimizing its potential harms.

More information

AAP Family Media Plan

Video: 5 Tips for Talking to Your Kids about Generative AI (Common Sense Media)

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Alexa, can you help me with my child’s homework?

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Amazon Alexa smart assistant device connected at home

What did you do when you couldn’t solve a tricky maths equation?

Did you search for the answer on Google, skip doing the homework altogether and tell your teacher dog ate it, or watch as your parents asked Alexa for the answer?

As bizarre as it may sound, the latter scenario is happening at an alarming rate, as parents and grandparents struggle to help kids complete their homework – particularly mathematics. 

There comes a time when homework becomes a little too advanced for parents to help with, especially as many forget how to do tricky long divisions, algebra or the names of all the triangles once they finish school . With over 500 million Alexa-enabled devices sold worldwide, people are using technology to their advantage when it comes to maths.

New data commissioned by the Department for Education ’s Skills for Life campaign and Kindred found that 54% of parents would say they ‘would struggle to know where to start’ if left to their own decisions when helping children with their maths homework.

The Skills for Life campaign is encouraging adults of all ages to up their skills and learn something new, and to boost their confidence when helping their children at home and potentially improve their own career prospects. 

Of the 2,250 adults surveyed, 69% said they use the internet to help solve schoolwork problems and 20% reported using virtual assistants, like Alexa and Google Assistant, to help tutor their kids at home. Maths was revealed to cause the most angst and was voted the least favourite homework subject among parents and grandparents.

Rear view of girl writing homework on table while sitting at home

The data comes as education groups raise concerns about the growing use of AI in students’ work. Asking a virtual assistant for help on a task you plan to finish yourself is quite different to asking ChatGPT to come up with the answers for you, it raises questions about how much we rely on technology. 

A 16-year-old student identified only as Fiore previously told Metro.co.uk that he turned to ChatGPT when he realised an English essay was due the next day. It’s 2024 after all, and his story serves as a stark reminder that the days of cramming the assignment into an all-nighter or turning to SparkNotes for help are long gone.

Although many people would fear plagiarism detectors or eagle-eyed lecturers spotting AI-generated essays , the student wasn’t afraid about being caught. 

However, not all students are using AI to cheat and not all are using ChatGPT, with some turning to Gemini, which was developed by Google. Chatbots have also been found to be helpful for students with dyslexia when it comes to comprehending in-depth academic texts. 

Jane Basnett, director of digital learning at Downe House School in Berkshire admits that homework can be tricky for parents. ‘In the old days, parents turned to the Encyclopaedia Britannica to find responses, visited the library with their child or they asked a more informed friend,’ she told Metro.co.uk. ‘They had conversations and made discoveries about different topics that perhaps they had not known about before.’ 

This practice, however, has changed drastically now that technology is just one tap, swipe or voice command away. ‘Finding the knowledge is one thing, understanding it and engaging with it properly is another.

‘Parents need to encourage their child to understand the GenAI output and to put their own responses together.

‘These are just the sort of conversations that teachers are having with their students in classrooms across the country. Gen AI (generative artificial intelligence) is a tool that can very quickly do your homework for you but in doing so, it takes away the key important elements of education: learning, discovering and critical thinking.’

One dad, Paul Duggan, 68, from London made a huge life change after realising he couldn’t help his daughter with her homework. He completed a Skills for Life Numeracy course in 2020, when his daughter Rebecca was 10, after she inspired him to sign up.

He has since gone on to achieve a Functional Skills qualification in maths, which is equivalent to a Maths GCSE. 

‘I always had a difficult relationship with maths,’ he said. ‘I think a lot of people do. When my daughter, Rebecca, started needing more help with her homework I realised that if I didn’t tackle my fear of numbers now, not only would I be unable to help, but I’d also risk passing on my negative relationship with maths, which I certainly didn’t want to do.’

Not all parents will be able to find the time to brush up on their maths skills, as they often have to balance full-time jobs, the needs of other children, the cost of living and general life stuff. But for those like Paul who could, it has proven to be invaluable.

‘Signing up to the Skills for Life course was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s helped boost my confidence with everyday sums, and I’ve also grown a lot closer to my daughter, Rebecca, in the process, helping her solve equations and more complex problems as she studies for her maths GSCE.’

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected] .

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