How Important is High School Homework—Really?

Guest Post by Charles Fay of LoveandLogic.com

Today I’m featuring an important guest post by Dr. Charles Fay of LoveandLogic.com.

Charles’ book From Bad Grades to a Great Life! Unlocking the Mystery of Achievement for Your Child is one of the most highly recommended resources on this website. You can get wise parenting instruction from Charles sent to your email inbox every week by joining the free Love and Logic Insider’s Club at LoveandLogic.com.

By Dr. Charles Fay

Does almost every day feel like a blur? Do you often find yourself wishing you had five or six more hands so you could juggle everything that comes your way? Conscientious parents in today’s world face a dizzying array of competing demands upon their time and energy. When everything heading our way feels like an ultimate essential, it can be tough to determine where to place our priorities.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how would we at Love and Logic rank the importance of homework, grades, sports, chores, and parent-child relationships? As you read, keep in mind that these rankings are based on empirical research as well as decades of experience with thousands of parents, educators, and other professionals… and of course my own subconscious biases. Ultimately, all of us have to decide what’s best for our unique children, families, and schools.

Homework

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homework

Homework is important, but nearly 100 years of research has failed to give it a stellar grade. Much of the debate reflects researchers’ difficulty determining how much homework is done by kids… and how much is primarily done by their parents.

Provide a time and place for your children to complete their homework. Help them as long as it is fun for both of you… and as long as they are doing most of the work. Because homework only receives a three on the scale, let them be responsible for either getting it done or explaining to their teacher why they haven’t. Never fight with your kids over homework.

See: Trautwein, U., & Koller, O. (2003). The relationship between homework and achievement—still much of a mystery. Educational Psychology Review, 15, 115-145.

Grades

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Grades are important but not as important as developing character and a passion for learning. Besides, too many kids begin to gravitate toward easier subjects and classes because they are more concerned with GPA rather than true intellectual growth.

Sports (and other healthy extracurricular activities)

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Fewer Screens * More Cheerful Chores * Happier Summer

This article was originally written in 2017. It was updated on May 8th, 2019. I plan to update it every May, right when parents need it most.

screens

Carol kicked off her work shoes and put them away in the front hall closet. “Hi, kids; I’m home!” She called out.

It’d been an extremely long work day for Carol, and the commute home had been long and sweaty due to heavy road construction and her car air conditioning being out. All she wanted to do was get her shoes off and collapse.

When she walked into the kitchen, though, she gasped.

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7 Criteria To Decide: Should Your Healthy 20-Something Kids Live With You?

So, your 20-something daughter wants to live at home in her childhood bedroom. Should you happily say yes and make a plate of warm cookies to welcome her back?

Or could this put you (and your child) in a bad spot?

I’ve written in a previous post about the horror of loving mothers and fathers who sacrifice for years only to find themselves in their 50’s, stressed and anxious over unkempt twenty-something children still living in their childhood bedrooms. Many of these parents despair over dependent 20-somethings sleeping in past noon, lounging afternoons away on parents’ couches, helping themselves to food from their parents’ refrigerators, and then staying up long hours into each night gazing into the flickering blue screens of online video games. 

You know that there are hundreds of thousands of parents living this nightmare every day, right?

What can you do to avoid becoming that parent?

1. Is your child enrolled in (and making successful progress through) a full-time academic program?

When your child is in elementary and middle school — or as soon as possible after that — start telling your children this important sentence: “Honey, we will be happy to provide free room and board to you after your high school graduation, as long as you’re enrolled in (and making successful progress through) a full-time academic or job-training program.”

2. If your child is still in high school, clearly lay out the plan for the summer after high school graduation.

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3 Reasons Every Teen Needs A Part-Time Job

Your teen’s schedule is already filled to bursting with sports practices, homework for advanced classes, and—of course—enrichment activities that will supposedly “make her look good on college applications.” Your family has plenty of money to provide this girl everything she wants without her having to work for it. Should you just forget about the idea of her getting a high school part-time job?

No. 

Job

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