“Homework is part of learning and most likely part of your elementary age child’s daily after school responsibilities. However, homework needs to be balanced with play, and, students need their parents to help them develop a healthy balance.”

Homework is part of learning and most likely part of your elementary age child’s daily after school responsibilities. However, homework needs to be balanced with play, and, students need their parents to help them develop a healthy balance.

Why Kids Have Homework

As an educator, I assigned daily homework, week long assignments, and at-home projects. Teachers generally assign homework to reinforce skills learned at school to improve retention and understanding. 

There are other positive benefits to homework:

  • Improves students’ study skills and attitudes toward school.
  • Fosters independence, responsibility, time management, and organization skills.
  • Students discover that learning can take place anywhere, not just in school buildings.

Additionally, homework encourages parental involvement in the school process, enhancing their appreciation of education, and allowing them to express positive attitudes toward the value of school success.

Play Is Important, Too!

Most of us realize the physical benefits of play include coordination, balance, motor skills, and of course play lends itself to living a healthy active lifestyle. But, play also provides valuable learning experiences, too, including social, emotional, and cognitive skills.

Social Learning Experiences

Playing with others provides opportunities for children to learn to take turns, cooperate, and listen to each other. Play also encourages children to share their ideas with one another, collaborate, and compromise.

Emotional Learning Experiences

During play children are able to experiment with various emotions and express their feelings including frustration, joy, and anger. Children are also able to express their opinions, learn to cope with their emotions, and learn to problem solve. Additionally, play provides opportunity for children to practice understanding and empathy.

Cognitive Learning Experiences

Children practice decision-making and planning skills during play. If they are engaged in puzzles or brain teasers, they will utilize their critical thinking skills.

Finding A Balance

Too much time on homework can mean lost time for play and other extracurricular activities. A better balance of homework and play will help our children grow into well rounded adults. I know personally that weekdays can be hectic. However, parents play a vital role in helping their child find a healthy balance.

Tips for parents to facilitate the balance of homework and play:

  • Make a plan. Decide with your child when and where homework will be completed (many times the kitchen table). Having an after school routine helps homework completion move along efficiently and therefore allows more time for play.
  • Provide a dedicated working space. An area to spread out works well. Be sure that you are prepared with supplies including pencils, paper, erasers, sticky notes, etc. And, make sure your child has a space to play, too! Their bedroom, family room, and/or the backyard or playground work perfectly.
  • Don’t stress. If your child is feeling overwhelmed with homework, communicate with their teacher. Perhaps your child needs to revisit the skill with the teacher. Or maybe it’s okay to complete only part of the assignment.
  • Play together. Children love to play with their parents as well as their friends! Take a moment to enjoy some fun, too!
  • Keep a positive attitude! Remember that your child may not be able to breeze through homework assignments. He/she may need your patience and encouragement while they persevere through difficult skills and concepts. They will notice your attitude toward their education and their time for play.

Homework Academy Can Help!

Free up your kitchen table a few times a week and send your students to the Homework Academy offered by Hopkinton Education Station. Parents will feel relieved that their child’s homework assignment is completed and that there will be time for play that day!

By Moira Motyka, Education Station Homework Academy Instructor and Former Hopkinton 5th Grade Teacher