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The Pros and Cons of Homework: What Parents Need to Know

Homework is a hot topic among parents and educators. There are pros and cons to assigning homework, and what works for one student may not work for another. In this blog post, we will look at the research on homework and discuss what every parent should know about it.

What is homework?

Homework is any assignment that students are given to complete outside of class. It is designed to reinforce what was taught in class and help students practice and apply their knowledge and skills.

Is homework a good thing?

Some experts argue that homework is unnecessary or even harmful. We know that potential drawbacks to giving homework include:

  • It can be overwhelming or frustrating for young students.

  • It can interfere with family time or bedtime routines.

  • It may not always be effective in improving academic achievement.

However, there are some the benefits of homework, such as:

  • It can help students learn and master material at their own pace.

  • It can help children develop study habits and skills early on.

  • It can build confidence in students.

What does the research say about setting homework?

The amount of homework students should get has long been a source of debate among parents and educators. There is little research to show whether or not it improves academic achievement for young children, with many experts suggesting that there should be no or limited homework for children in Years 1 and 2. Although research undertaken by the EFT found the average impact of homework was positive across both primary and secondary schools, it had a smaller impact in primary schools.

Nevertheless, research revealed that children with low test scores benefited the most when their parents frequently helped with homework.

How can parents support their children with homework?

Early Years

Parents can support their children at home even if they do not have homework. For instance, parents can encourage children to do tasks, such as putting away their toys, getting dressed independently, and brushing their teeth without help. These tasks will help the child become more independent and confident in themselves. It is also important for parents to be patient and provide encouragement as the child learns how to complete these tasks on their own.

Other things a parent can encourage their child to do alone to help support cognitive/academic development include:

1. Read a book before bedtime.

2. Practise counting or writing the alphabet.

3. Draw a picture of their favourite thing.

4. Make a list of things they are grateful to have.

5. Choose one healthy snack to eat each day.

6. Write down three things they did well that day.

Many researchers have highlighted the significance of play in early education. Play is a space where children have the opportunity to explore their world on terms they define, with freedom and without consequence. The most valued form of play for children is 'free play', which occurs when they choose what games or activities that interest them. Therefore, play remains a significant formative practice through which children develop social skills and self-confidence.

School Age Children

Parental homework support is most effective when the parent offers warm encouragement, has a positive outlook about the subject and homework, has high (and achievable) expectations of the child, and gives positive feedback that can help the child progress.

When helping with homework, parents should never try and control the process or give them the answers. It can deprive the child from learning problem-solving skills.

Specific support for Tweens/Teens

During the teenage years (and tween years in some cases), the brain undergoes tremendous change and development known as a critical period. It can be quite a dramatic time for the child as there is an increase in hormones, and their brain thrives to become more efficient, shedding approximately 17% of grey matter.

If a tween/tween seems stressed or overwhelmed when completing homework, it is advised that the parent intervene. They can help with relaxation techniques and the planning, monitoring and completion of work (executive functioning skills). The parent can also model executive functioning skills in everyday life so that the child can learn these skills implicitly.

Parents should seek advice from teachers and other school staff about how to make homework support more engaging and attuned to their child's learning needs.

Supporting the child reluctant to do their homework

1. Make the child (especially if they are under 13 years old) do their homework in a communal place – e.g., the dining room table. Therefore, the parent can be nearby to offer support on their work effort.

2. Although the parent should not do the child's homework for them, they can help with planning, organising, monitoring and assistance - e.g., making a homework to-do/done list and using a timer to help complete homework on time. These skills are called executive functioning skills, which tweens and teenagers are still developing. Some children do not fully develop these skills until they are 20 years old!

Is it okay if your child never asks for help and prefers to do homework alone?

It is okay to let a child do their homework alone. Parents should resist the temptation to control the homework process. It can lead to anxiety or dependency. Furthermore, where the child has control of the process, it can help them to develop independent learning skills.

However, the parent should also ensure that support is available should the child need help.

When should parents stop providing help with homework?

Researchers suggest that as children reach the age of 14 years, parents should begin to phase out homework help.


Parents can play a significant role in their children's academic success by providing homework support. Research has shown the importance of the frequency and quality of support - e.g., offering encouragement, having positive expectations, giving feedback and awareness of the child's development stage to provide the appropriate level of help.

Parents can also speak to teachers and other school staff if they want help with providing homework support.

More Curricular is an award-winning specialist provider of handwriting training and research-led assessment and learning tools for UK children and parents.

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