Homework can have several purposes. Ms. Blegen explains:
"We have to ask ourselves, `What good does the homework do? What are we after?' I think it's only good if it's used for something that contributes to the class. Like getting ready for something, or finishing something, or polishing a presentation."
The major academic purposes of homework are to help children:
get ready for the next day's class;
learn to use resources, such as libraries, reference materials, and encyclopedias; and
explore subjects more fully than time permits in the classroom.
In elementary school (and to a certain extent in junior high and high school) homework helps children develop good work habits and attitudes. It can:
encourage self-discipline and responsibility, as assignments provide some youngsters with their first chance to manage time and meet deadlines.
Homework is meant to be a positive experience and to encourage children to learn. Assignments should not be used as punishment.
Creating high-quality assignments with a purpose can be time-consuming. A high school history and social studies teacher from Wisconsin, Thomas J. Howe, explains:
"For much of the homework I assign, (students) know that the next day I will use it as the basis of a more meaningful whole. They know there is a purpose to what I'm assigning. They know the knowledge is crucial to the next day's activity. So the homework requires a fair amount of planning and thought as to why I'm giving it in the first place."