Recently there has been a lot of talk about the value of homework. One notable school in the United Kingdom has taken the bold step of banning homework. There has been research to suggest that homework does not help to improve learning, in fact they have suggested that it hinders learning.

I hated homework when I was young. It was everything I didn’t want to do after spending 7 hours in school. Then I grew up. I became an educator. More importantly, I became a parent. I now believe that we do not have to do away with homework but we ought to re- think how it is being carried out and move away from the traditional ways in which homework is administered.

As a parent when I encourage my children to do homework before playing I am met with sad faces, scowls and a few tantrums. I have been where they are and I understand.

We now need to nd ways to ensure that our children enjoy learning once they are home. It may require that we communicate with the school on this matter and make suggestions where possible.

Learning with technology

Most educators have integrated technological devices into their lessons. Children enjoy using their tablets for recreation and schoolwork. It provides them with independence and empowerment. Find ways to have students continue the use of technology at home for the sake of learning and not just play. Parents can encourage this by using educational games.

Learning through experiences

Instead of a trip to the mall, try to plan experiences for your children that will enrich them academically. If they are studying rocks or rock formation, a trip to a wadi, where they can collect and examine different rocks can be both fun and educational.

The Middle East boasts many galleries and museums, plan family trips to these places and your children will thank you for it. Remember that for children, simply going outside, observing plants, animals and the scenery around them can be more fun, and engaging than sitting indoors. They spend a lot of time seated while in school; let us get them out and active, especially during the cooler winter months.

Top homework tips

1. Let them relax before tackling homework. Focus on homework when everyone is alert and ready to have some fun.

2. Think of homework as a way to spend time together. Ask to see what they are working on. Change the conversation from, “Go and do your homework” to, “Let’s work on it together”.

3. Join online work and use it as a family opportunity. My 7-year old was doing her online assignment of going through shapes and matching words. We asked her about a ‘rhombus’. She knew the word and what it was. My wife was even wrong! It became a joke for us and helped to boost her confidence.

4. Life skills are an important part of homework too! Time spent having fun with friends, planting in the garden or playing MineCraft can help with their development.

5. Engage in dialogue about what they are learning and how they are learning.

6. Move beyond traditional book studies. Make more time for meaningful interaction online, research, and online games that help with phonics, etc.

Let’s take another look at homework; our children will thank us for it.

By Mostafa Hassan

Mostafa (ArabBaba) is a teacher by profession. He has been an Arab Stay-At-Home-Baba (Dad) to his two daughters. He is also a blogger, who is on a mission to prove that Parental Engagement is vital to the process of children’s education. For more on ArabBaba visit www.ArabBaba.org.