“The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle
School isn’t perfect. However, at school, each student has a level playing field when they’re in class as they have the same resources, desks, etc.
At home, things can get more complicated, since not every parent has the time nor ability to help their children with their homework as much as they’d like to. That said, homework is a useful opportunity for parents to see where their children struggle at school.
Homework can also take a lot of time and it can be tricky to organise.
So which homework is the most important? Can any of it be overlooked?
How Long Should Homework Take?
This is the big question that a lot of students struggle to answer. For some students, homework can take up a lot of their time. At primary school, however, students have much less homework than secondary school pupils.
The average 15-year-old in the UK has 5 hours of homework a week. Evidence has shown that more homework than this barely improves a student’s academic performance.
However, the workload increases a lot when they also have to revise for GCSEs and A Levels.
Each student works at their own pace so it’s not worthwhile setting an exact time for them to finish their homework. You don’t want to have them spending too long on their homework, either, as it’s about finding the balance.
An hour a day is already more than enough, but it depends on how much homework they’re getting.
Some parents and teachers would prefer to see homework completely eradicated, but that doesn’t mean that students shouldn’t revise at home.
Spoken Homework versus Written Homework
For very young children, there are some interesting ways for them to learn while at home. Different types of homework will take some students longer to do than others.
There’s also the disadvantage that not every parent can help their child with their homework and spoken homework is probably easier for them to do.
Spoken homework can be reading aloud, telling their parents about what they learnt in a given lesson, or rephrasing a concept they’ve been studying. This is also a type of homework that a lot of students can probably do on their own, but they can also lie and just say they did it.
Written homework is probably what you think of when you think of homework; a piece of work that the student has to do and had into their teacher for marking.
It’s quite common for students to get homework that requires them to complete exercises or write something. Almost every subject teacher can set written homework for students. There’s no absence of written exercises that students can be tasked with.
In secondary school, a lot of pupils have to write essays, for example. Most written work, especially in the humanities, is practice for their exams, where they’ll probably have to write an essay.
This homework can be time-consuming and, in some cases, take more time than the revision itself. However, revision is also an important task that they should be doing every day.
How Long Should Students Spend Revising?
Students should regularly go back over their lessons. By regularly revising their lessons, when it comes time to revise for exams, they’ll have a really good foundation and understanding of the topics that they’ve been studying.
While younger pupils don't need to do this, secondary school pupils should be getting into the habit even if their teachers haven’t asked them to. This can teach them to become autonomous learners.
So how much time should they spend on revision and homework?
Again, it’s about finding a balance. If a student comes home with a lot of homework one evening, it might be worthwhile skipping revision, but if they have an upcoming exam, it might be worth leaving the homework for later.
During evenings where they have very little homework, they might want to create study sheets and revise a bit. Revision only needs to take between 20 minutes and half an hour and is just about going back over their notes from class and summarising what they learnt.
Which Homework Should Students Focus on?
Is there homework that’s more urgent or takes more time?
You’ll have to prioritise homework that’s due the following day. Don’t try to get on top of your other work if you haven’t finished your homework for tomorrow. It’s always a good idea to be getting on with the homework you’ve been set before revising, too.
Start with the easy tasks and get into the swing of things. You don’t want to start with something complicated and feel like you’ve hit a wall. Once you’ve done the easy tasks, it’ll be easier to move onto the more difficult ones.
It’s also a good idea to leave your favourite tasks until the end for when you’re tired and your motivation may be waning. You don’t want the last task to be from a subject that you hate.
When it comes to revision, you might want to check what you can remember before you even open a book. This simple memory activity can quickly show you what you probably need to be revising. From there, you can create revision notes that focus on the topics that you need to study. Don’t hesitate to underline anything that you struggled to remember.
Should You Spend Longer on Certain Types of Homework?
Homework should only be set by the teacher if it’ll help the students to better learn or understand what they’ve been teaching in the lessons. Teachers don't give out homework just to annoy students, despite how it may sometimes seem. As we’ve mentioned, you need to prioritise homework with imminent deadlines.
After that, which homework should be prioritised?
Younger students won’t need to prioritise certain subjects over others. At this age, they won’t be thinking about exams, applying to university, or what they want to do as a career. Just make sure that they have enough time to get it all done and prioritise everything according to the deadline.
At secondary school, students may want to prioritise the subjects they’ll need to do well in for their future careers. A student looking to move into the hard sciences may want to prioritise maths and science homework rather than the arts and humanities. While they won’t want to fail any subjects, it’ll be much worse for their career prospects to have failed maths than music, for example. The more homework they have, the more they’ll need to prioritise tasks.
What to Do If You Can’t Do Your Homework?
In some cases, students may be overwhelmed with their workload and unable to finish their homework on time.
If this is unavoidable, it may be worthwhile talking to their teacher about it as it might be down to how they organise their homework or it might be that they’re getting too much homework from all of their teachers.
Perhaps other students are encountering the same problems and the teacher may need to adjust the homework they’re setting for certain students in the class. Of course, in some cases, it may be a sign that the student needs some extra help.
Once a student starts to fall behind, homework becomes even more difficult.
How can you start working on equations if you’re still struggling with arithmetic?
Private tutorials may be a useful solution and a way for students to catch up with their classes.
Homework help tutoring can help them when it comes time to sit down and do their homework. With the help of a tutor once or twice a week, a student can learn how to organise their homework and get better at staying on top of it. The goal isn’t to do their homework for them but to teach them how to be an effective and autonomous learner.
If you're looking for private tutors, consider searching for them on Superprof. There are thousands of tutors offering lessons in academic subjects, arts and crafts, sports, musical instruments, foreign languages, and life skills so you're bound to find the right one for you.
Don't forget that a lot of the tutors also offer the first lesson for free so you can try several different tutors out before deciding on the one that's right for you. After all, if you're going to be working with the tutor quite a bit, it's important that you get along with them and they have the right skills for the job.