Homework, what are they for?
Beyond the open debate on whether or not it is appropriate for our students to arrive home with their backpacks loaded to continue working for a while, we parents have the difficult question of knowing what role we should adopt when school tasks begin to appear . Do we sit with them? Do we help them in their first steps? We watch? Do we leave them alone? The key lies in understanding the why of the duties.
It is a recurring theme in the media space. Duties yes or duties, no? This academic year began with a kind of strike of parents in France who refused to devote time to the duties of their children. In Spain, in Valencia, a father has even raised a claim through the judicial process fed up with dedicating several hours a day to solve the problems of the tasks of his offspring.
But the truth is that, outside the debate on the appropriateness of duties, they are a reality that is quite widespread in the countries around us. And parents, whether or not they understand the reasons why there are homework, find themselves face to face with this problem when they reach some point in Primary Education. Maybe before they had to complete some craft at home, give some support in fine motor skills or encourage reading with special dedication, but it is from the age of six when children begin to have a regulated and limited task for each day in their houses.
What are the homework assignments for?
To understand what we should do as a family in the face of our duties, it is essential understand the pedagogical sense of the duties. As explained by the Chair of the UNED Emilio López-Barajas"The goodness of these tasks during after-school hours lies in the capacity they have to generate the habit of autonomous work in children." This habit, repeated afternoon from the earliest childhood, will be the one that will become tomorrow virtue and give rise to an adult capable of facing the challenges and the effort that means to overcome them ".
In this sense, it is very important to bear in mind that the duties are "autonomous work". Unlike the tasks that the student performs in the classroom, with intense vigilance and the direction of the teacher, surrounded by the rest of the classmates, the child is alone before the homework and has to overcome a series of internal obstacles to succeed in the situation: laziness, forgetfulness, fear of the unknown, the ability to think and develop strategies, perseverance *
Later, at the end of the Primary stage and during all subsequent courses, the duties will also serve the student to fix concepts. The explanations of the teacher in class allow to carry out a first rational approach to a series of information that the child receives for the first time. But a single visualization does not activate the cerebral mechanisms that make that information permanently fixed in the memory.
In addition, studying outside the classroom helps to systematize concepts that in the classes can be exposed in an orderly manner, in response to the difficulties of each explanation. The review of the book or the notes, the search for complementary information and the development of the study materials such as conceptual maps and maps, will end up guaranteeing that this process is complied with.
And finally, With homework, children have the opportunity to develop some fundamental feelings for their personal growth, such as trust, pride in a job well done, the realization that efforts that seem complicated were met with effort, or the idea that they are able to manage their time and obligations for themselves.
Advice: Prof. Emilio López Barajas, Professor of the UNED