Bridging the Gap Between School and Home

Homework is a vital tool for enhancing a child's grasp of the coursework. It's an opportunity for review, assimilation and preparation for upcoming material.

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In the early and middle years of a child's education, the time spent on any one topic in a subject is usually brief and somewhat superficial. Exposure to basics is more important than accumulating information. This remains true, though to smaller and smaller degrees, through the sixth grade. After that, the demand increases considerably and quickly. The range of material that has to be taught and learned broadens a great deal and the depth to which a student must penetrate new material increases as well. Topics are covered in far more detail and students are expected to grasp the connections between topics in a subject more quickly before moving on to new information. In order to develop a solid foundation, teachers need more time than they usually get in the classroom during a typical day at school. Homework is a vital tool for enhancing a child's grasp of the coursework. It's an opportunity for review, assimilation and preparation for upcoming material.

Homework is also a way of integrating the support structure of home with the support structure of school. And the support of the adults in a student's life is crucial to his educational success. At school, a child's fellow students, his teachers and the administrators of the school need to step up to the task of supporting each student as he builds his knowledge. Activities and educational techniques should call upon and provide opportunities for the participation of everyone around the student. Teachers and administrators need to work together and should also work with their kids to show them how to work together. Group projects, group study, field trips and so on are all great opportunities for providing a supportive environment for a young learner.

At home it should be no different. When a child brings home an assignment, he's bringing home his educational experience and planting it a different context. Parents or legal guardians and other family members need to take up where the school support structure leaves off. Homework assignments should call upon, encourage and enable everyone at home to participate in each child's education. Older siblings are a great resource for the younger ones. They know what it's like to cover new ground and can offer emotional as well as practical support and guidance. Younger siblings, through their questions and concerns can provide an organic form of review for older kids. As much as possible, the home learning environment should be and extension of the classroom. Homework assignments should, as much as possible, be an extension of the courses and material being presented in school.

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