Homework is necessary, but stressful. Sometimes overwhelming, but also beneficial. How can we use homework as a tool to help us learn and grow, without allowing it to take over, preventing us from having fun and relaxing? The reason this is a difficult question is that it requires us to think about what matters most to us.

The personal equation of balance

Life is a juggling act, and homework is just one of the balls we keep in the air.

There is no magic formula for managing your life priorities, of which homework is one. But it helps to consider how it serves you. Do you do homework because you want to achieve a certain outcome? Because you love learning and exploring? Because you want to make a parent proud? Because you want them off your back? The answer is different for everyone, and it can change over time.

We all have different things we want to do in life, but we only have so much time to do them. That’s why we need to learn how to manage our time wisely and find the right balance for ourselves. Some may need more help from parents or teachers to figure out what’s important and what’s not, but eventually, we want to be able to make our own choices. That way, we can live in harmony with our true values and goals.

Homework is a means to an end, not the end Itself

Most students think of homework as a thing that needs to be done. But the most successful students think of homework in terms of what they get out of it. For them, it’s not just about crossing things off their list, but about actually learning something. 

Here’s a simple example: let’s say your class is trying to get the hang of something new and your teacher gives you exercises to practice. Now say it clicks for you when you’re only halfway through those exercises. Do you keep going, or is that enough for the day?

If you’re chasing the grade, you keep going. If you’re trying to learn, you stop there and move on to something else.

That’s right, I said it and I meant it: homework is a guide, not a rule. Teachers give homework to help you learn better. If you get the idea quickly, you don’t have to do more of the same thing. That doesn’t serve you. So stop.

(Conversely,  if you are still confused after finishing the homework, that doesn’t excuse you from finding alternative methods of learning the material that work better for you.)

The teacher’s perspective

Unfortunately, your needs aren’t the only ones that matter here, so let’s also consider some other factors for a moment.

Homework also serves the secondary purpose of helping teachers see how well you understand the material. So, while I do advocate stopping once you understand, I don’t advocate skipping it altogether, no matter how well you think you understand the underlying material.

For instance, if an assignment feels easy to you, then start by completing the most difficult part of the assignment. If that goes well, then skipping the easier parts will be (much) easier to justify to your teacher, since they will have good evidence that you understand the necessary material. (This might also buy you some time to watch some videos or read some articles that explain the topic differently, which can help you in all kinds of ways.)

Make homework serve its purpose

Many bright students dread homework as a tedious chore that takes up their precious time. But what if we change our perspective and see homework as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve ourselves?

Homework is not meant to be a punishment or a burden, but a way to practice and reinforce what we have learned in class. Homework is not about counting the minutes or the pages, but about making the most of our minds. It’s a tool that can help us achieve our goals and dreams, nothing more… and nothing less.

Shift your mindset about homework, and turn it from a source of stress into a stepping-stone for success. Just as it was intended to be.

Need help with your homework? You should check out our free ‘What’s My Homework’ course. It’s got a load of guidance on how to get the most out of your homework experience at school. Or… schedule a consultation with our tutors today and start thriving academically!