Executive Summary - Part 2

Children’s Attitude toward Homework. Most noteworthy is the fact that children start in kindergarten with 85% being enthusiastic or willingly cooperative to grade 4 where 61% are very resistant to only grudgingly cooperative. This change is related to the time required by homework – more homework correlates with more negative attitude (p < .0005) and therefore higher the grade the more negative (p < .0005). The child’s attitude is most negative toward “completion” homework (r = -.29) somewhat less negative toward projects (r = -.19), even less negative toward studying for tests (r= -.14) and least negative toward drill & practice (r = -.07). The more TV watched the more negative the attitude toward homework (p= .04) and the more time spent playing video games, the more negative the attitude toward homework (p < .0005)– probably both due to increased pressure from parents. Those children where the language is other than English or French have a significantly less negative attitude toward homework.

Parental Attitude and Sense of Competence. Parental attitude begins very supportive in the lower grades with the majority being “completely supportive” in grade 1 and 2. By Grade Three this drops below 50% and by Grade Four 26% are “Hesitant” to “Strongly opposed.” At Grade 8 the “completely supportive” again rises to over half. There is a very strong positive relationship between Parental Attitude towards homework and the Child’s Attitude (p < .0005). Although the parent generally has a more negative attitude as homework increases, the parent is least negative about projects (r = -.10), a little more negative about tests (r = -.12), somewhat more negative about Drill & Practice work (r = -.16), and most negative about completion homework (r = -.17).

Perceived Effect of Homework on Achievement. Parents seem unsure about the positive effect of homework on achievement. This is most so in the upper elementary grades. Only 20% believe homework has a very positive effect on achievement in grade 5 while 40% believe it has a neutral to negative effect in Grade 4.

Other Activities in the Lives of Children. Many children have activities that demand considerable time and compete with homework and family time. For example nearly 60% of boys and 43% of girls were involved in sports activities, 28% of boys and 35% of girls in music activities. Most noteworthy was the very strong data showing that children from homes over $100K incomes were most busy with arts, sports, religious, household, and job activities.

Awareness of Homework Policy. Parents were most aware of class teachers’ and school homework policy vs. board or provincial policy. Private school parents had most awareness at this level. There was relatively little awareness of School Board Policy. It was not determined in the research whether the schools or school boards actually had policy.

Qualitative themes. Respondents had space for the addition of comments and concerns. This resulted in some 180 pages of qualitative data that was analyzed for themes. Ten themes emerged. The most dominant themes were in two related pairs: (1) Homework Expectations and (2) Amount: Expectations were too high for the child to accomplish (corroborated by the recent TDSB Student Census) requiring parental assistance, directions/expectations were unclear (even to the parent), and inadequate accommodation for ESL/LD. Amount was simply considered too high in many cases. (3) Reduces family time and (4) Affects family relationships: The amount of homework puts stress on an already taxed system resulting in feelings of resentment, little life balance, and arguments and power struggles.