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Article of Interest - Homework

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Bridges4Kids LogoHomework Fails to Make the Grade
by Mark Townsend, The Observer, February 8, 2004
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Children have long suspected it, and now research confirms it: homework is a waste of time. Anxiety, boredom, fatigue and emotional exhaustion are all side-effects of bringing schoolwork home, according to a review of 75 years of study into the issue.

Even those who believe homework improves their performance in the classroom resent the encroachment on their spare time.

And the best place for extra study may not, in fact, be at home. The report by the Institute of Education makes a case for out-of-hours study to be done in after-school learning clubs, away from the potentially disruptive influence of parents.

Tensions are the most pronounced in middle-class families where the pressure to succeed can create a volatile atmosphere. Parents who are overbearing can undermine any pleasure children derive from study.

The report's author, Dr Susan Hallam, said: 'Parents have the most positive influence when they offer moral support, make appropriate resources available and discuss general issues. They should only actually help with homework when their children specifically ask them to.'

Current government guidance ranges from at least one hour a week of homework for five-to seven-year-olds to two-and-a-half hours a day for students aged 14 to 16. Yet Hallam found that homework tended to boost achievement only when done in moderate amounts.

Her findings follow comments from David Bell, chief inspector of schools, who said that parents have a key role to play in tackling an endemic anti-learning culture in society.

'Early support from parents is crucial. A very significant investment in the early years has got to be right, even though we are still not 100 per cent sure what the biggest single influence is in these years,' he said.


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