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Who is Responsible for My Child’s Homework?

Ensuring homework is completed can be as big a challenge for parents as the work itself is for children.

When people say that their school days were the best days of their life they likely have many reasons for thinking so.  Homework, however, is probably not one of them.  Many of us will remember being filled with indignation by the various assignments, projects and essays we were expected to complete at home.  Today’s students are no different and many of them will bristle at the perceived unfairness of having to attend school all day, only to have to return home and study when they would rather be enjoying some free time.

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For parents, too, homework can be a challenge.  Students who are reluctant to complete their homework or who need supervision can be a drain on time that busy mums and dads could well do without. However, the importance of homework cannot be understated.  It is vital that parents work with their children to ensure they are reaping the maximum benefit possible from every assignment.

The Benefits of Homework

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Homework is beneficial in several ways. The most obvious of these is that homework reinforces what the student has learnt.  At home, students can practise using the methods taught in class to ensure that they understand them and can use them to answer questions. This is vital for success in exams, where there will be no teacher to provide hints as to how to solve the problem. Speaking of exams, homework assignments can be a good indicator of the lessons a teacher deems essential, providing valuable insights into what may be asked of students when test time rolls around.

Beyond deepening students’ knowledge and preparing them for exams, homework is beneficial because it:

  • Teaches children to work independently
  • Teaches time management skills
  • Improves the ability to conduct and organise research
  • Instills the idea of personal responsibility
  • Allows parents to provide support to their children
  • Enables teachers to identify issues or gaps in students’ knowledge
  • Encourages students to identify their own areas of weakness

Being Responsible

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Ultimately, responsibility for the completion of a child’s homework lies with their parents.  While a teacher is never likely to accept the excuse that homework was not completed because “Mummy didn’t remind me”, if they keep hearing it, it will be Mummy they call.  While never shirking this responsibility, it is important that parents demonstrate to their children that it is they who are responsible for their homework, not Mum and Dad.

Students starting primary school need to be taught that homework is their responsibility.  For younger students, it is a good idea to establish a regular homework routine that works for them and their family. It’s important that children have a quiet place to study without distractions from the TV, siblings or friends. Set a regular homework period and allow your child to enjoy their free time once homework is completed. 

Establishing a routine will help ensure that you meet your responsibility and your child completes their homework. Over time, children will begin to feel a sense of responsibility for their own work.  That does not mean that a parent is free from responsibility, however.  Far from it, as when students progress through school, there will be many occasions when parental involvement is necessary.

Helping with Homework

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Once children are comfortable with accepting responsibility for their homework, a parent’s role can shift.  Freed from the need to enforce routines and check that assignments are completed, parents can be on hand to ensure that children do not become discouraged or overwhelmed.

When children are finding homework tough, it can be tempting to step in and complete the task for them. However, this detracts from the purpose and does not benefit the child in the long term.  Instead, parents should offer support and guidance. They should encourage children to remember their lessons and offer hints as to the methods required to solve problems.  Children should be reminded that they should learn from their mistakes and that the most important thing is that they try their best.

Parents can also encourage children to take their learning further by assisting with research recommendations. They should encourage children to read varied books or study topics in more detail online. Not only will such tactics improve a child’s outcomes, they will also bolster their research skills and encourage them to work harder next time.

The Importance of Responsibility

The pressure on today’s school children has perhaps never been higher.  The education system demands a lot from their young minds and success in exams will also demand a lot of their time. Given the choice, most children would prefer not to have to take responsibility for their homework.  By taking responsibility for their children’s homework themselves, parents can demonstrate its importance and encourage students to do so too.

James Patterson has been working as an educator in Singapore since 2014 and teaches at LCentral’s Bukit Timah. He has a sound understanding of phonics, and over the years he has helped many children on their journey to becoming independent readers. James understands the pressures and difficulties of the MOE English syllabus and strives to inspire each of his students to reach their potential. He is passionate about the importance of regular reading and the role it can play in the development of young learners’ vocabulary, grammar and writing skills.