Thursday, 23 April 2009


We have a program in our school that is separate from the French Immersion program. Homework is a key element in that program. You have to agree that you'll ensure your child does a certain number of minutes (determined by grade) every night. Even kindergarten has homework. I've become friends with some of the mom's with kids in that program. I can't tell you how many times I've heard comments about how they're so glad for a break from school - and the root of that, I find out through the conversation, is a break from homework.

I want to ask them why the heck they continue in that program...but that isn't really politically correct or maybe even polite, so I don't say anything.

Our school's homework policy is this:

All students are expected to do homework on a regular basis for the following purposes:

- further the mastery of a specific skill.
- complete unfinished assignments
- complete assignments missed due to absence
- strengthen the ties between child, parent, home and school through shared learning activities (e.g., the Home Reading Program).
- develop responsibility for completing assignments.

Parents can help with homework by:

- Providing a quiet, regular place to work(Homework should become a routine affair).
- Helping your child organise time for assignments.
- Being the "audience" for reading practice andspelling and math drills.
- Providing information and knowledge for projects.Too much help, however, may make a child too dependent on you for help.

The Home Reading Program is an important part of a students’ homework routine. Please ensure that you child reads daily.

Often, a good guideline for the amount of time to be spent doing homework is ten minutes per grade level. By this formula, a grade 1 student would work about ten minutes per night (on average), while grade 6 students would work approximately 60 minutes per night (on average).

I find myself in a dilemma. I have found that most of the homework sent home is busy work. Jill has told me recently that her teacher has given a number of reasons for homework:

- They need to start getting into the habit because soon they'll be in junior high (My response: when you're pregnant do you start getting up at 3 am for an hour every night...because soon you'll have to?! No!!)

- If they don't have time to do homework they should quit some of those extra curricular activities (My response: Drives me nuts when educators assume their arm reaches into our privates lives and they should have a say in how we spend our evenings and weekends)

- The teacher works really hard to come up with interesting activities for us to do and she feels like they're ungrateful when they don't do it (take a break! We'd like a break too!)

I found a great article today on this topic. The author has a blog and she suggests people send an email once a month to their school adminstrators to get them to look at their homework policies again. Check out the article. I think she's got it right!

Does this mean I don't expect my kids to school related things? No. They love to read. They often play school. They sometimes do research and even write up reports on things they're interested in. That passion is never found in the stuff that is assigned. And if they're messing around in school and not getting their work done, then please do send it home and we'll have a conversation about it....but don't think I need to have someone direct us on how we spend that hour every night. And I do have her do the homework that is sent home...but I don't make a big deal of it. I sure don't have her stay up late to finish it if it isn't finished either. Rest is more important.

I believe kids need to have time to be kids and figure out what they want to do and what they enjoy. I think kids lives are too often controlled by parents and other adults. They don't get together in a field and play soccer anymore. They go to organized community soccer. They don't lay in a field and stare at the clouds. We think we have to watch them all the time so they're safe. Too few kids spend hours reading because they have homework to do first.

1 comment:

Shirley Wilson said...

AMEN to Homework. I agree with you whole heartedly. If homework should be assigned, maybe the teachers needs to stay after school and help that child for 10 minutes for a kindergarten child and 60 mintes for a grade six child. You would see no homework assigned then would you.

I remember Grandpa Hyde (my father) telling us girls that he hungered for a higher education. He needed to work and so the teacher at the school told him when he was done his work to come after that time and he would be there to teach him his school work. That teacher would sometimes still have the light on in the school house teaching Daddy his high school education well into the hours of the night. More teachers need to take this approach to the education of their students. We would have better children because of it.

I agree that parents should not be burndened with teaching their own children. That is what we pay school taxes for. Parents need to spend more time with their children laying in a field watching the clouds go by. I admire you, Dawn, for all the activity you keep your kids instilled in - Jill with her swimming and Pierce with his leisure reading. That makes it fun for the kids and they don't realize how much knowledge they are gaining because of what you are doing with them. Just your intelligent conversations in the car, makes for education.

BRAVO to the parent that does not believe in homework. It isn't homework for the child, it is WORK for the parent, and who is to say your methods of teachings are the same as the child's teacher.