Is Your Child Really Learning? Learning the Difference Between Busywork and Homework


Parents have started to question the quality of their child’s homework. The question is not regarding the efforts put in by kids, but with the learning from the homework. Is the homework really effective or it is just busywork?

Understanding Busywork

Busywork is defined as the assignments that are time-consuming but do not impart any knowledge. Your child will look occupied but will not learn anything from it. This time could be better utilized for some physical activity or extracurricular activity. Proper family time, social time and playing time is required for the child’s holistic development.

How is Homework Different?

Busywork usually repeats the same stuff that has been learnt or something too easy or too hard for the student. On the other hand, homework serves a different purpose. Effective homework is one that supplements learning, imparts knowledge and implements newly skills. It is supposed to be self-paced so that the students can effectively understand where they lag behind and what are their strengths. 

However, we should not discard the fact that repetition is also a method of learning. While at one glance this may look like busywork, we should know when repetition becomes too much. 

How to Identify Busywork?

While the distinction between busywork and homework is hard to identify, there’s a process by which can help you. You should look for the following signs:

Your child has done it thoroughly already

As we discussed, if the child is confident about a topic but the repetition is still there, then such an assignment is not adding any value to your child. It can even backfire as the child will not find the topic interesting anymore.

The assignment does not progress the education

If you find that the work will not help your child in furthering his/her education, then it’s probably busywork. Too often, teachers just assign work to occupy the kids through the class when the topic has been taught. 

It is irrelevant to subject

Sometimes, students receive time-wasting activities which are not related to the subject. This is clearly busywork. The assignment can be too easy or too hard for them, making it irrelevant to the student. 

They’re bored

Children can’t learn if they are not keenly interested in the work. If you see that your child is just completing work in a monotone without any excitement, then probably no learning is imparted. However, this will vary from child to child as every student has different interests. You can consider homeschooling your child to customize their learning experience based on their interests. 

There can be a chance that your child is gifted and too advanced for their class, in such a case they would find every work as busywork as they will already know the solutions.

How to Curb Busywork?

As a parent, it is your responsibility to communicate the problem with respective teachers and authorities. You have two popular options:

However, if we look at things from the perspective of the teacher, then personalized homework for every student is not a feasible solution. But you can inform them of their shortcomings.

Homeschooling is not easy but definitely provide a better curriculum for your child based on their interests. If the cost is not an issue, one should definitely go with it.


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