Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What Should Elementary Parents Expect For Homework This Year?

            It’s commonly understood that no one enjoys homework, and some even believe it is ineffective. Parents’ opinion on the matter lends to extreme views. Some want their child to be academically competitive, and because they believe loads of homework will help accomplish this, they expect a certain amount of homework for their child each evening. Some, on the other hand, resent the fact that the family’s evening schedule must revolve around their child’s homework responsibilities. There are reasons indicating that neither one of these extremes are reasonable beliefs.

            Homework can be effective in helping students improve their achievement, if it is assigned properly. Yes, it is true that busywork fails to help students. For this reason, teachers at HCS avoid assigning busywork, but instead, assign tasks that will help students become skilled, independent thinkers. Most homework assignments can be labeled as practice – math practice, reading practice, etc. Occasionally, projects may be assigned for different reasons such as research, critical-thinking, and problem solving.
            Independent practice without the direct supervision of the teacher is necessary to help students develop mastery in their studies. If a student cannot perform independently, then they haven’t actually mastered the content. This idea is especially important for testing. If students cannot perform assignments without the help of a teacher or parent, then they will not be able to perform them on the test. Teachers at our school assign tasks that help students obtain mastery. This is why these tasks are usually started at school but finished at home. In many cases, students finish all of their work at school and have nothing to take home.
            In lower elementary grades, most homework assignments involve practice reading. Rarely do these students have written homework. Middle grades begin to have a heavier math lessons, but these should mostly be finished at school. However, students in these grades require time at home studying for tests and quizzes. Students in the upper elementary grades will be assigned a few more projects (i.e. research paper) than other elementary students, but they are given time during the school day to begin working on these tasks.  
            For homework to work effectively, time must be considered. After students have been at school all day, their ability to concentrate on academics at home will be limited. For this reason, teachers consider the amount of time it will take students to complete homework. The ten-minutes-per-grade-number rule provides a reasonable compass for determining whether the time required for completing homework will surpass a child’s ability to concentrate. For example, a third grader (3 times 10 minutes) will rarely be able to concentrate at home for longer than 30 minutes. Our teachers take this principle into consideration when forming assignments. Exceptions occur when the occasional long-term assignment is assigned, such as book reports, science projects, or research papers. On most days, the homework load will take less time than this ten-minute principle.
            If your children take longer to do homework than the average student, it will be necessary to allow them breaks to clear their thinking. Exercise will also be vital. Bottled up energy can be distracting for the child, as well as irritating for the parent. Knowing what to expect and planning accordingly will help your children complete their homework and build their achievement, one assignment at a time.

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