Homework in secondary school serves many purposes. It could be to consolidate or check or extend the learning from the day or prepare for the learning to come in subsequent days. It could be to do with longer term work such as assignments or preparing for tests and examinations. Ultimately it comes back to what school is all about – learning. Learning not just content, but learning and developing skills. At times students feel that the work they are doing at school is not relevant to their lives, however sometimes we need to look beyond the content to the purpose of the learning exercise. At times the content will be a vehicle to teach particular skills. Much of what students learn in Mathematics develops the problem solving circuits in their brain. When they are analysing Shakespeare they are learning not just about Shakespeare but to think critically and expand their point of view and broaden their experience of the world through examination of different lives, emotions and experiences. The message is that everything learnt at school has purpose and value, even if students can’t quite see it at the time.

There is much debate in the media as to the value of homework. In Primary school it has been shown that only a small amount of students actually benefit from doing homework in terms of academic achievement. The exception to this is reading at home – every student benefits from this. However the other benefits can’t be discounted: developing independent working skills, establishing study routines necessary for learning in later years, helping students master things they are struggling with and allowing parental involvement. In secondary school homework has been proven to be an essential component of academic success in the senior years. The reality of Year 11 and 12 is that a large component of independent learning needs to be undertaken at home. One of the biggest problems for students transitioning to the senior years is that they have not learnt to work effectively and efficiently in the home environment. This is why developing good habits and learning to do at least a solid hour a day of home study is essential in Years 7-10. It is also about developing the qualities of discipline and perseverance, both essential for senior studies. Students will not like every subject equally, students need to learn how to make themselves do the work even for their least favourite subjects.

So what can students do to manage their homework effectively? Have students try these top tips:

  1. As soon as you get home unpack your bag before you have a break and something to eat. Lay out all the work first. It is easier to get started if you have everything ready to go.
  2. Before you start work, write a list of what needs to be done and decide what order you will do it. Focus on what is most important, not just what subject you like best! Also write down how long you think each task will take to do.
  3. Keep in your mind that it is all about learning. Try and look beyond the actual content to what type of skill this homework might be developing in you – analysing, critical thinking, writing skills, or problem solving skills for example.
  4. Do your work in 20-30 minute blocks with no distractions during that time. So switch off the TV, turn off your phone for that 20-30 minutes. When you just focus on the work that needs to be done you’ll be amazed at how much work you complete. Of course if you are on a roll, you can keep going past the 30 minutes.
  5. If there is a task you really don’t want to do then alternate this with a task you enjoy doing. For example 15 minutes on the homework you like, 5 minutes on the homework you don’t like. When you chip away at it you will be surprised how quickly you get through the work.

Resize of homework

Subscribers to www.studyskillshandbook.com.au may also like to work through the TIME MANGEMENT SKILLS, DEALING WITH DISTRACTIONS and OVERCOMING PROCRASTINATION units. Check if your school subscribes here.


Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources: www.enhanced-learning.net
Online Study Skills Handbook: www.studyskillshandbook.com.au




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Here are 5 reasons you can give your students as to why they should start working on their assignments immediately.

Even if your assignment isn’t due for weeks, start thinking about it immediately. At the very least, answer the key starter questions on the day you get your assignment. Even if you are not thinking about it directly, your subconscious will be hard at work.

Although the school or local library will probably not be your main source of reference, you should drop in soon after receiving the assignment. Your teacher will probably have alerted the school librarian to the assignment and reference books, magazines etc may well be displayed. These will disappear quickly if the whole class has the same assignment. Books, periodicals, magazines can sometimes be a useful general overview for an assignment and they help to clarify a direction as you begin to immerse yourself into the assignment topic. It is not a good idea to only use Google!

You could also ask your local librarian for any additional direction on where to look for resource material for your assignment. Librarians are often your best source of information. They know how to help people access relevant and appropriate information, in books, the Internet or computer based references. One of the challenging aspects of Internet based searches for school students is the complexity, language and purpose of websites, not to mention bias and reliability.

If you do some initial research on the assignment points you’ve identified through the library, references your teacher may have given you, school textbooks, and general internet search engines, you could find yourself having more direction in your research. For example: Perhaps there isn’t enough information, or perhaps you find you don’t understand important concepts, or perhaps you need to speak to your teacher to get further clarity. If you find this out early, you will still have plenty of time to plan, research, write and present your assignment. Imagine if you didn’t start your assignment for a week or so, and then discovered you needed more guidance. You could easily run out of time.

Starting your assignment immediately will give you a safety net in case you get sick, or something unexpected happens. Assignments usually require a large amount of time; students must plan a strategy or schedule to ensure they are completed. You should always have a schedule that allows for the unexpected.

So get started today!

Subscribers to www.studyskillshandbook.com.au may also like to have students work through the interactive ASSIGNMENT SKILLS unit. Check if your school subscribes here.

Prue Salter
Enhanced Learning Educational Services
The study skills specialist!
Study Skills Resources: www.enhanced-learning.net
Online Study Skills Handbook: www.studyskillshandbook.com.au

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January 31, 2014

Every parent and teacher would like to see students achieving their personal academic best at school. Knowing how to work efficiently can help students navigate the mire of academic demands in secondary school in a stress-free way. Here are the top five tips for your students about making the most of their time at school this [...]

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January 1, 2014

This month’s post is a guest post from Skylar Anderson. Skylar Anderson is a Seminar Director at StudyRight. He graduated summa cum laude from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree. He has been helping students simplify their studies and get the most from their education through StudyRight since 2011. [...]

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December 1, 2013

Reflecting on Triumphs and Tribulations With the end of the year fast approaching it is a good time for students to reflect on their approach to school this year.  If students wait until next year they will have forgotten what they did this year and what they need to change for next year. So as the holidays approach, students [...]

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November 1, 2013

A common form of assessment in secondary school is a test or examination. Unfortunately many students don’t really know how to study properly for a test. They just read their notes over and over and hope that the content will stay in their head. This is the slowest and most ineffective way of studying. Some [...]

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October 1, 2013

Expectations on students can create a very competitive environment. Students are inundated with information about the significance of academic performance, and the result, in many cases, is that some students develop unhealthy propensities for perfectionism. Perfectionism may not sound like much of a problem in an academic atmosphere – after all, teachers and parents want [...]

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September 1, 2013

In our last tip we looked at doing effective research for assignments. These tips will focus on getting started with the writing. 1. CHECK REQUIREMENTS So your student has done all of their research, collected the information they will need and are ready to start writing their assignment. Before they begin, they should revisit the requirements, format and criteria for the [...]

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July 31, 2013

Do your children waste hours on the Internet when they are researching for an assignment? Here are our top 10 tips for how students can be more effective and efficient in their research. Tips for students to research on the Internet: 1. REQUIREMENTS: Before you start, review all the info about the assignment carefully. What [...]

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July 1, 2013

Do you ever find that your student spends a long time doing little fiddly things then finds that they have no time left for the larger tasks they need to get done? Try this experiment. Take a jar, some rocks, some pebbles and sand. What happens if you put the sand in first then the pebbles? The rocks [...]

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