But in families of limited means, it’s often another story.
Many low-income parents value homework as an important connection to the school and the curriculum—even as their children report receiving little homework.
Indeed, perhaps it would be best, as some propose, to eliminate homework altogether, particularly in these early grades.
On the contrary, developmentally appropriate homework plays a critical role in the formation of positive learning beliefs and behaviors, including a belief in one’s academic ability, a deliberative and effortful approach to mastery, and higher expectations and aspirations for one’s future.
Any parent who has battled with a child over homework night after night has to wonder: Do those math worksheets and book reports really make a difference to a student’s long-term success?
Or is homework just a headache—another distraction from family time and downtime, already diminished by the likes of music and dance lessons, sports practices, and part-time jobs?In addition, the authors point out that parents tend to be more involved in younger children’s math homework and more skilled in elementary-level than middle-school math. Cooper of Duke University, the leading researcher on homework, has examined decades of study on what we know about the relationship between homework and scholastic achievement.In sum, the relationship between homework and academic achievement in the elementary-school years is not yet established, but eliminating homework at this level would do children and their families a huge disservice: we know that children’s learning beliefs have a powerful impact on their academic outcomes, and that through homework, parents and teachers can have a profound influence on the development of positive beliefs. He has proposed the “10-minute rule,” suggesting that daily homework be limited to 10 minutes per grade level.While correlation does not imply causality, extensive research has established that at the middle- and high-school levels, homework completion is strongly and positively associated with high achievement.Very few studies have reported a negative correlation.Allison, a mother of two middle-school girls from an affluent Boston suburb, describes a frenetic afterschool scenario: “My girls do gymnastics a few days a week, so homework happens for my 6th grader after gymnastics, at p.m. My 8th grader does her homework immediately after school, up until gymnastics.She eats dinner at and then goes to bed, unless there is more homework to do, in which case she’ll get to bed around 10.” The girls miss out on sleep, and weeknight family dinners are tough to swing.As the educational psychologist Lyn Corno wrote more than two decades ago, “homework is a complicated thing.” Most research on the homework-achievement connection is correlational, which precludes a definitive judgment on its academic benefits.Researchers rely on correlational research in this area of study given the difficulties of randomly assigning students to homework/no-homework conditions.Certainly, young children are still developing skills that enable them to focus on the material at hand and study efficiently.Teachers’ goals for their students are also quite different in elementary school as compared to secondary school.