As schools go back around the country, some parents will be questioning the purpose of their primary-aged children’s homework. Dr Katina Zammitt from Western Sydney University explains how to make it meaningful, and why it’s important for teachers and parents to understand what the other is looking for from the get-go.
Dr Katina Zammitt, Western Sydney University – “It’s important to know the teacher’s expectations from the beginning of the year”
Dr Katina Zammitt is the Deputy Dean at the School of Education at Western Sydney University. Katina is passionate about improving student learning outcomes.
“Homework can be a minefield for children and parents in primary schools,” says Dr Zammitt. “Teachers often state that they set homework each week to keep the parents happy. Parents comment that they feel frustrated with the homework their children are given as they don’t understand how to help or how to do it the way the teacher does.
“The ‘best’ homework goes beyond filling in a worksheet, memorising spelling, finishing incomplete schoolwork or doing a project. Repetitive low-level activities are merely busy work than actual learning.
“Homework should build students’ capacities and understandings based on the work they are doing at school whether it is literacy, history, mathematics or any other subject. It should be meaningful and able to be completed by the child with minimal parental assistance. It might include talking and asking questions, learning about the child’s world in greater depth or using family experiences such as shopping to engage them in learning to read or count.
“It’s important to know the teacher’s expectations from the beginning of the year, to help parents engage with learning, and ensure homework is enhancing student learning.”