The homework dilemma: Can homework be good for you and your child?

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Cyber Safety for Kids and Families On the Fish 103.9FM returns next week

Bonnie Terry, best-selling author of Family Strategies for ADHD Kids, Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills, and Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills and one of the co-authors of Amazing Grades is with us today. For more, go to: BonnieTerryLearning.

Homework can be a very emotionally charged topic, as the volume of work expected to be done at home creates time management challenges for parents and students alike, starting at very early ages. The social and extra curricular schedules of children and families make very little room for homework or down time. Many parents are working long hours, only to be confronted with children challenged or upset about getting the homework done.

So I asked our learning expert, Bonnie Terry, to help us get some perspective on the value of homework and how to prepare children, especially the learning challenged, to handle it well.  Terry is a best-selling author of Family Strategies for ADHD Kids, Five Minutes to Better Reading Skills, and Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills and one of the co-authors of Amazing Grades is with us today. She is a Board Certified Educational Therapist and internationally recognized as America’s Leading Learning Specialist and the founder of BonnieTerryLearning. Her curriculum materials are used world-wide. Bonnie is also the host of Learning Made Easy Talk Radio and is a frequent media guest.  Bonnie is a mother of 3 gifted kids who also happened to have ADHD and several learning problems.

I do agree that homework problems such as excessive homework loads  (averages of three to four hours of homework a night do exist) and that homework time can be daunting. However, I do not agree with totally banning homework, because it comes with a major benefit that we often lose sight of:  teaching our kids planning and follow-through skills.   These executive function skills include responsibility for writing down an assignment, gathering books and any other materials needed, bringing those materials home, planning when to do the homework assignment, and not least, actually doing it.  But even at that point, planning and follow-through tasks continue:  it must be checked, packed up, returned to school, and finally, turned in.

Understanding the value of homework as learning transferable skills

Homework really shouldn’t be about the actual assignment. It should be about successfully completing the Homework Cycle.  Unfortunately the true purpose of homework is often forgotten and assignments are given with the thought of and stress of covering a certain amount of material during the school year!

If you think about it, the homework cycle is the same cycle we all go through when we are doing any project, whether it is doing the laundry, making a meal, or planning a trip. Responsibility needs to be taken. Decisions need to be made along the way. Materials need to be gathered and put in order. Carrying out the project (i.e. : setting time aside to do the laundry, gathering clothes, sorting clothes, washing clothes, drying clothes, folding clothes, ironing clothes, hanging clothes up, mating socks, putting clothes away) is a multi-step project that has to be planned out. Homework gives our kids an opportunity on a repeated basis to learn the types of planning skills they will need for life.

Homework Skills are Life Skills

That being said, while homework skills are life skills, life skills are NOT punishment skills. Homework should be given with ‘sanity’. There should be approximately 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level. Once your kids have hit that mark, homework should be DONE!

In Middle School and High School there should be some way of coordinating projects between classes so every class isn’t doing a special project or ‘piling’ on the homework at the same time. Too often it seems that teachers don’t have any idea about the cumulative amount of homework the kids are assigned when they are taking five academic classes. There is little to no coordination among teachers in most schools when it comes to assignments and test dates.

My Experience with Too Much Homework

I recall talking with one of my son’s teachers regarding homework, because it was taking him too long to complete it. She had no idea that she was assigning so much homework. She told me to just write a note telling her that he had put in his homework time. That is what I did, even though my son wanted to complete the work. She also decreased the homework for about six weeks. When homework time started increasing again, I let her know and she again decreased the amount for the whole class.

A disclaimer here

When your child has dyslexia, ADHD, or a learning disability, I usually double the time for homework, because it will take them longer to complete the assignments. However, that is only for 1st through 3rd grade. Once kids hit 4th grade, I work on shortening assignments, because kids should NOT be punished for their disability. And, when interventions are done, these kids with learning problems should be able to get their assignments done in a timely fashion.  We have a variety of ways to address learning problems at Ten Minutes to Better Study Skills book will help with planning of homework as well as improve note taking, paragraph writing, and essay writing skills.If your child is taking too long to do their homework, there is a reason for that, and something can always be done about it.

Give my office a call if you need additional help: 530-888-7160.



Joanna Jullien
(Photo: Christi Benz)

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.





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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.