The Homework Conundrum
By: Mrs. Sauter
More homework, less homework, no homework at all! This would sum up the main three parent requests related to homework that have molded our homework policy at The Village School. Allow me to explain my thoughts that led to this policy more clearly…
For the past year, our teachers and administrators have been discussing and researching best practices for creating a homework policy that would complement our philosophy, benefit our students, and also align with parent requests regarding homework. Some of our sources are the National Association for the Education of Young Children, The National Education Association, and a book titled, The Homework Myth, by Alfie Kohn. In none of these resources could we find positive support for homework, especially in the lower grades.
Our parents pay to send their child to a premier private school for the curriculum to be taught by exemplary educators who are professionals in their fields. These individuals are key to helping set the tone for our students’ education and they spend 7 hours working hard to teach our curriculum each day in their classrooms. The job of the school is to educate the children while they are at school so we can observe their progress first hand.
At our school, we believe in teaching and reaching the whole child. Many of our students have several hours of extra-curricular activities, sports, music lessons, dance lessons, theater practices, and social commitments after school is over. We also believe that family time is critical and an important focus for our families. Many parents request minimal homework for their child, a very small percentage of parents request greater than 60 minutes in lower elementary school and some parents want zero homework. How do we find a common ground?
First, there is no homework policy that will make all of our parents happy. But, we are working hard to find our school’s common ground…
The projects suggested for home are ideas for parents who want to work with their students at home to have appropriate activities that support what we are doing during school hours. Our philosophy does not support multiple pages of random busy work. There are some parents who wish to see more reinforcement at home and therefore we have provided resources for those parents wishing to spend additional time working in the evening.
Please know, for The Village School, our practice is based on much sound research and it all supports the philosophy we have adopted. We want the assignments to have meaning and value to the student. We will often differentiate the work to the appropriate level of our students, and we will have assignments for students to go further in depth in the areas in which they are interested, according to their identified multiple intelligence.
The National Education Association and the National PTA recommends the following research based time frames that follow the “Ten-Minute Rule”. Starting in first grade, 10 minutes of homework is a reasonable request, second grade would have 20 minutes, third grade would have 30 minutes, with middle school at a maximum of 80 minutes each night.
So tonight, grab a good book and read it with your child, practice math facts with your child, have fun writing in a journal together, sit down and have dinner with your family, play a board game and maybe even go play outside! Enjoy this time with your children while they are young; the time really flies by…
I have many resources from which we drew our final assumptions that I am happy to share with you. Please feel free to share your thoughts.