When school is back in session this also usually means that students are required to do homework. Kids are required to read a certain amount of minutes every day, practice their math skills, study foreign languages or play a musical instrument. This seems like a lot to ask of students, especially young children. There are some good reasons behind why students are required to spend time practicing what they are learning. One major reason is that spending time doing a skill can actually change a student’s brain.
Reading experience causes changes in the brain
Some research shows that the act of reading changes our brain. An article by Annie Murphy Paul shows how the brain changes based on the amount of time we spend reading. Research shows that there tends to be less grey matter in the brain in students who are dealing with dyslexia. The article points out how this could be because people who struggle with reading because of dyslexia tend to not spend as much time reading.
Reading practice could lead to improvements in brain development
Some people used to think that the differences in the brain were hard wired or inherited and this was what caused dyslexia. Actually the research suggests that it could be that the lack of time spent reading that causes the differences in the brain. In Annie Murphy Paul’s article it points out that when dyslexic students spent more time with a tutor to practice reading their brains also showed more grey matter just like the students who did not have dyslexia.
Does doing homework help students learn and does it affect their brain development?
This leads us to consider what other parts of the brain are developing as we practice other skills. A student who struggles in math and decides to never do their math homework might be missing out on brain development. If the brain can gain grey matter just by spending the time doing math homework, then it could be benefitting the student even if they don’t realize it.
Could spending time practicing an instrument change the brain?
Some students take music lessons that require daily practice. Among those students it would be interesting to see if the students who spend more time practicing their instrument have more development of grey matter in their brain. We’ve all heard the term “practice makes perfect” and although it’s hard to see what’s actually going on inside of the brain practice could be changing the composition of our brains.
This research should motivate students to spend the recommended time doing their homework, reading books and practicing new skills. Parents can also help explain the importance of doing homework to their children. Especially if your child has difficulties reading, they can be encouraged that the time spent practicing reading has been proven to help their brains develop and even help them overcome their dyslexia to some degree. Here are some other reasons why homework is beneficial for student learning.