Novastar Tutor Tips: Homework Balance

Homework tends to be over-used in most schools today. If balanced properly then it can build student’s confidence and interest towards learning.

Like most things, the value of homework depends on the context: the subject, the age of the child, learning style, family dynamics and the demands of the school day itself.


Too much homework loses its function of honing skills and leads to rushing and indifference. When worksheet after worksheet is packed in as an effort to make up for skills not being learned during the school day, students become overloaded, and they sense that it is just “busy work.” One of two things can happen: the student becomes desensitized and stops trying or the high-achieving student ramps up into overdrive, becoming excessively worried about the need to complete all assigned tasks.


Today’s teenagers are stressed-out already as they face the challenges of competition and advanced coursework, worrying that the college they make it into will determine the outcome of their entire futures.


Per Psychology Today, the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s. Too much homework contributes to overload in high schoolers and disengages students.  But that doesn’t mean we throw out homework entirely; its benefit is the creation and sustainment of discipline, of study habits that produce consistency in skill building. Consistency leads to mastery of subject matter and confidence in the student.


Go lightly because less is more. Give enough homework for daily practice which builds confidence in the skills; assign readings to go deeper into material, but when it becomes an hour per subject per day (or more) the student is likely to lose interest in the whole process, a severe loss to her potential and love of learning.


In elementary school, short simple memorization drills, for example of spelling or times tables, are appropriate; just a few minutes per subject. These are best incorporated into activities the child already enjoys, just as how many balls they collected in a game.


In middle and high school, the at-home reading can be increased to go in-depth into subjects such as history and literature, especially as it matches the budding interests of the student. Math and science practice problems are also important for sustaining progress and reiterating principles.


Novastar Prep’s tutoring method helps to create discipline of daily practice which helps bolster a student’s comprehension and increase engagement. The more familiar concepts become, the less intimidating they are and the more facile the learner becomes with them. The aim of “homework” is to cultivate joy in learning, not merely to regurgitate information. Proper homework balance offers joy and discipline in learning resulting in higher student confidence!


Stephanie Pacheco, Subject Coach at Novastar Prep


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