Despite recent concerns of parents that homework serves little purpose and can be too stressful for children (i.e. see post on the film RACE TO NOWHERE), most research finds that self regulation skills and homework activities are related. Hundreds of studies in a variety of contexts, not only in the classroom, but also in healthcare and other arenas, found similar positive outcomes for better self-regulated learners (Duckworth et al, 2009). A good self regulator will pay attention to task, persist when it becomes difficult, demonstrate flexibility, be motivated and confident that additional effort will lead to positive outcomes. Sounds pretty good right, even for adults!
Teachers know homework contributes to self-regulation skills, and that is why even a little homework at a young age can be helpful. As a parent, I invested a lot of time in making sure my young children did their homework first thing, at the kitchen table when they came home from school, beginning in kindergarten when the academic value of the work was questionable. And today, when they come home from school and are motivated to do their homework without my staying on top of them every minute, I am extremely grateful that I put in the time when they were younger. Now the stakes are higher, and they SELF-regulate. Much better than MOMMY-regulate.
The activities that students conduct during homework such as motivating themselves, setting goals, and inhibiting distractions are all components of self-regulation. As such, teaching effective homework practices may be a relatively simple means of developing self-regulation. Investing greater effort in homework is also associated with higher achievement with effect sizes ranging from .39 to .97. In studies with middle school children, students with better skills in SRL while completing homework ahieved higer academic performance (Zimmerman, 2008).
And really… do any of you want to be sitting in your child’s dorm room when they go to college telling them to get back to work?