Teacher's Guide to Creating a Homework System

You spend a lot of time preparing homework assignments for your students that compliment the lessons they are being taught. When students do not take the time to complete homework assignments, it can lead to some frustration on your end. Use this guide as a way to help you create a homework system that you can implement immediately. It will help your students be more accountable for their work, and help you organize and manage their homework for optimal benefits.

Let Students Know Your Expectations

In all fairness, you should tell your students what you expect from them in terms of completing and handing in homework assignments. If students do not receive direction from you, they will not place homework on their priority list, and often times fail to even complete assignments. They need to know that there are consequences for not turning in homework assignments, such as lower grades, loss of classroom privileges, etc. Emphasize the importance of homework and why it is given. Consider sending home a note to parents in the beginning of the year that explains your expectations for homework as well. This will better the chances that students will take their assignments seriously.

Give Homework Assignments a Purpose

In order for students to take their homework assignments seriously, they need to see the relevance of the assignment to what they have learned. If you give them an assignment on something you have not taught in class, they will feel like you have treated them unfairly. On the other hand, if their homework assignment is geared to help them reinforce something they have learned, they will appreciate the assignment. If you do use a homework assignment as a means to prepare them for class the next day, don't make it too difficult. It should be a gentle introduction to the next lesson.

Use Homework Assignments to Challenge Students

Consider using homework assignments to get students to think outside of the box. Give them a way to reinforce concepts and incorporate these concepts with other subject areas. This is a great tool for teachers to use when they want to see just how well their students are grasping lessons in the classroom. And, the fact is that some students in the class may need that extra challenge to keep them interested in their lessons in the classroom.

Vary Your Homework Assignments

Make your homework assignments interesting and varied. Giving students the same outlines and questions will bore them to pieces. Mix learning styles and approaches to subjects. In this way, you are bound to give out assignments that students might enjoy.

Avoid Lengthy Homework Assignments

Students are in school for many hours. While homework assignments are an opportunity to help them reinforce concepts, it shouldn't be so much that they miss their entire evening of events because they have to finish their homework. Here is a general guideline for assigning homework:

  • Kindergarten through 3rd grade: 20 minutes a day
  • 4th - 6th grade: Up to 40 minutes a day
  • 7th - 9th grade: 1-1/2 to 2 hours a day
  • 10th - 12th grade: 2 to 2-1/2 hours a day

It is also a good idea in middle school or high school, to try and coordinate homework with other teachers, so that one teacher is not handing out the whole allotment of homework, thus bogging a child down with too much work at home.

Award and Motivate Students

Praising students for a good job on their homework will work to your benefit. It encourages them to complete assignments because they know you appreciate their hard work. You might also want to offer incentives, such as small prizes, for the entire class when everyone completes their homework within a given week. This gives the entire class a sense of unity to work towards a goal.