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Homework:

Homework:While students -- and some parents - bristle at the amount of homework assigned in schools, a Tufts expert says it prepares kids with skills for future success.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [06.28.02] They may not like it, but they need to do it. As kids add more and more extra curricular activities and sports to their already full schedules, the time left for homework seems to grow increasingly smaller. But a Tufts expert says skipping out on homework can keep kids from developing the important skills they will need for future success.

"The truth is...homework is not always fun," Janine Bempechat -- a senior consultant to the Program for Educational Change Agents at Tufts University -- said in an interview with National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation. "The value of homework, especially in the elementary school years, may not be as much academic as it is motivational."

Early motivation and discipline, say Bempechat and other experts, is essential for children's long-term academic careers.

While they may not like it, homework for young students helps prepare them to handle the increased workload they will face in middle and high school, Bempechat told Talk of the Nation.

"You get better intellectually and academically when you practice more," Bempechat said. "To me it's a no-brainer."

But quantity doesn't always translate into quality.

"There are many discussions among faculty in middle and high schools about the need to integrate the curriculum more, Bempechat told NPR. "Developmentally appropriate amounts of homework are what are really going to help children."

And despite their urges, parents need to allow their children to take on the responsibility of completing assignments without a tremendous amount of help.

"In my children's elementary school when there are projects assigned, [some projects] come in and you know that the architect father built the two-scale reproduction of the Parthenon," Bempechat said. "[It's] not anything that impresses the teacher or the principal...and the child has learned nothing. The idea behind a project is that it gives students a chance to learn in very different ways."

Sometimes the struggle to complete the work helps build the most important skills for the future.

"[Students] learn to become persistent. They learn over time to become diligent," Bempechat said. "They learn over time...not to give up when things get tough...and these are qualities that simply cannot be developed overnight."

 

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