I’m often challenged when talking with kids about their homework (and when I did homework myself), as to the reason we do homework, especially if it’s on a topic we’re probably not going to use in the future. I don’t always have a good answer to the question, because I don’t really see a point to some of the work or the topics, especially with how technology has developed in recent years. I know the biggest challenge is that no one can anticipate what a child will grow up to be and what knowledge they’ll need. For example you can’t anticipate who will be a geologist, who will be a president, who will be an accountant, who will be a teacher, and who will be a stay at home parent, so to some extent you have to teach a little of everything until they’re at an age that they can make those types of decisions.
What’s important are some of the things that we don’t talk about or specifically connect with the homework and other schooling kids do, and that would be things like discipline, creative thinking, interpersonal relationships, researching, the challenges that happen as you’re working towards a goal and/or persistence. It’s through learning these practices and habits that can give you a good foundation regardless of what you do with the rest of your life. It’s easier to teach those skills and habits through something like math homework than it is to tell someone to go home and work on being persistent (which someone might take to mean saying “mom” over and over for an hour?!).
So if your kids struggle with homework or studying it may be helpful to them to understand what they’re really learning or how it could apply to their life. Sometimes the answer is just that there probably isn’t a need to learn that topic for the future, but the skills of writing or reading or critical thinking they’re using to do the homework are what will benefit them in the future and that’s the practice they’re really getting. But what’s really more important than them getting the homework done, are the habits you help them create by having them do their homework each night, study with sufficient time before a test or exam, and invest effort and creative thinking into the projects they’re assigned. The period of history or animal they’re studying right now won’t stick with them, but those important skills will.
“Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.” Julie Andrews