What has eight letters and strikes fear into the hearts of students around the world? No, it's not broccoli, but that was a good guess! Give up? HOMEWORK!

Did you just gasp in fear and anguish? We're sorry, but homework is a fact of life and it's time we took a closer look at it. Even though it might get in the way of playing outside or watching your favorite television show, it's necessary and, believe it or not, good for you!

Homework creates a bridge between school and home. Parents rarely get to spend much time with you while you're at school. Homework allows them to keep up with what you're doing in your classes on a daily basis. But you don't have homework purely for your parents' benefit. It's good for you, too!

Homework can help you become a better student in several different ways. First of all, homework given in advance of a particular subject can help you make the most of your classroom discussion time. For example, before beginning a discussion of a complex period in history, it can be very helpful to read background information as homework the night before.

Homework also gives you valuable practice with what you've learned in the classroom. Often, the brief period of time you have during class to learn something new is simply not enough. Repeating classroom concepts at home helps to cement in your mind the things you learned.

For example, you've probably experienced the value of homework when it comes to mathematics. A new concept explained in class might seem foreign at first. With repetition via homework, however, you reinforce what you learned in class and it sticks with you. Without homework, a lot of classroom time would be wasted with repetition that could more easily be done outside the classroom.

In these ways, homework expands upon what is done during the day in the classroom. Your overall educational experience is better, because homework helps you to gain and retain more knowledge than would be possible with only classroom work. As you learn more, you know more and you achieve more…and you have homework to thank!

Homework teaches lessons beyond just what's taught in the classroom, too. Bringing homework home, completing it correctly, and turning it in promptly teaches a host of other important life skills, from time management and responsibility to organization and prioritization.

Despite these benefits found by researchers, the topics of who should receive homework and how much homework are hotly debated among educators and researchers. In one study, researchers found that academic gains from homework increased as grade level increased, suggesting homework is more beneficial for older students. Some researchers have found that too much homework can lower or cancel its benefits and become counterproductive, because students become burned out.

How much is too much? That depends upon many complex factors, including the individual abilities of the child, other demands upon time, such as sports, part-time jobs, family responsibilities, and types of classes. If you feel overburdened by homework, the best thing you can do is to open a dialog with your teacher. Be open and honest about your feelings regarding homework and work with your teacher to strike a reasonable balance that helps you achieve your educational goals.

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