A Few Thoughts About Homework

As we progress towards mid-term one, it’s worth pausing to consider an important topic that affects all students in the School: homework.  

The topic of homework can be unfashionable. In fact, there is a trend in some countries towards abandoning homework altogether because it is viewed as an excessive intrusion into the lives of pressured and anxious students. Likewise, some countries regard homework as negative because it entrenches disadvantage for lower socio-economic families where there may be less home support for students or less access to technology. These concerns are valid, but their solution is not altogether to remove homework but to ensure it is set properly by a carefully considered teacher.

Homework is an integral component of the learning process that extends beyond the confines of the classroom. Numerous academic studies have consistently shown the positive impact of homework on student achievement.

Let's explore some of these key benefits:

  • Practice Effect: Homework provides students with an opportunity to reinforce what they've learned in class. Repetition is a crucial element in the learning process, and homework acts as a valuable tool to solidify new concepts. There is no place for mindless, time-filling tasks – but where the work offers a genuine opportuity to reinforce knowledge or skills learned during lessons, homework can be vitally important.

  • Organisational Skills: Completing tasks at home fosters the development of planning skills. It encourages students to manage their time efficiently, plan tasks, and meet deadlines—skills that are crucial not only in academics but also in the formation of character.

  • Reinforcing Lesson Content: Homework serves as a bridge between classroom instruction and independent learning. It allows students to delve deeper into topics, explore related materials, and gain a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Well-designed homework offers an opportunity to dig a little deeper or to ignite a student’s imagination on a topic.

  • Cultivating Good Study Habits: Consistent homework assignments contribute to the cultivation of good study habits. By engaging in regular, structured study sessions, students develop the discipline and focus necessary for academic success. Good daily and weekly routines can engender a sense of purpose and self-assurance. The opposite is also true – a haphazard life can be diminishing for a child or young person.
  • Connecting Parents with Learning: Homework provides an opportunity for parents to actively engage in their child's education. I am certain that this is an underappreciated part of the merit of good homework habits. Parents view the learning that has occurred during the day. It opens conversations and allows parents to share knowledge and skills where appropriate. Reviewing and discussing assignments allow parents to witness their child's progress firsthand.

If you are interested to read a little more on this topic, consider:

  • Cooper, H. (2007). "The Battle Over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents." Educational Psychologist, 42(2), 89–110.
  • Epstein, J. L., & Van Voorhis, F. L. (2001). "More Than Minutes: Teachers' Roles in Designing Homework." Educational Psychologist, 36(3), 181–193.

One academic paper I read suggested that homework should expect approximately ten minutes per year level per night. This would mean that students in Year 12 would be working around 2 hours per evening on their homework or assessments. Many Barker students are doing more than this, I know, depending on their assessment load. The new Senior Study Hub is very well used every day and on the weekends, which is a delight to see. It’s a wonderful place to study and think.

Undervaluing homework in Upper Primary or in Middle School can deny a student opportunity to develop good habits and routines that will prepare them for the more demanding years of Senior School. There is no shortcut.

We continue to strive for excellence in student learning.  Homework plays an important role in the life of Barker, despite the myriad events and activities that fills their days.  Do not hesitate to be in touch with your class teacher, Head of House, Dean or the Learning Team at Barker if you want to discuss any matters arising from the thoughts above.


Phillip Heath AM
Head of Barker College