Teachers give homework just about every night of the week. A good homework assignment can provide students with practice with a skill already taught, can prepare students for an upcoming test, and can extend a project or topic under study. A poorly designed homework assignment can bring tears and frustration and a lost opportunity to build a bridge between what’s being taught in school and talked about at home. Homework struggles are particularly real for struggling readers and for students with LD.
Citing findings from research, Kathy Ruhl and Charles Hughes provide great information about homework in Effective Practices for Homework (PDF provided by TeachingLD.org ). Written for teachers who have students with LD, the document outlines homework practices that are less effective and those that are more effective.
What can teachers do to make their homework assignments as productive as possible? First, give less more often. Borrowing from learning theory research, practicing a skill a little bit over time (called distributed practice) leads to greater maintenance and retention of information. Second, make sure students understand the assignment. Seems intuitive, but lots of times kids get home and don’t understand what they’re supposed to do. Third, explain the purpose of the homework. Students who understand why the homework is important may be more motivated to complete it. Fourth, allot enough time to present the homework. Avoid rushing through the directions or assuming students will be able to figure it out.
There’s much more information in Effective Practices for Homework . I encourage you to take a look!