In the ongoing debate about homework you can find some excellent posts and suggestions from some highly respectable leaders in the field. For example Tony Sinanis shared a three part series of how his school looks at homework from the building, teacher and parent perspective. Another #SAVMP friend-Liz shared this post about the great homework debate. And you can’t talk about homework without mentioning Alfie Kohn. After reading, re-reading, reflecting, going out for a run, reading again I finally think I have a few things to add to the discussion-mainly who is doing the homework and for what?
Thoughts for Administrators to consider:
- Do you have a professional stance on homework? Have you sought input/feedback from teachers/parents and students in setting that stance for the building?
- Have you asked teachers to share what kinds of homework they send home so you can have a sense of the depth, complexity and time it would take for a student to complete the work?
- Is the homework supporting inspiring, encouraging and developing sparks in our children and in their educational dreams and aspirations?
Last year our school created web-based videos for parents to watch that demonstrated creative ways to engage students in learning and preparing for Kindergarten. Since then we have added videos for snow days, how to help your child learn math concepts with materials you can find around the house and engineering challenges.
Points to consider from the teacher point of view:
- Is the work extending/enhancing learning that has occurred during the lessons?
- Is the work required or recommended? For all, for some?
- Have you helped parents to understand their role in supporting their child complete homework and what they can do if the child comes home and is stuck on the work?
At my son’s school the teacher has a private twitter account in which he posts extension activities or questions that parents can use at home to inquire or support the learning that occurred during the day.
Parents-I am one of them now-key things to remember:
- You already completed (insert your child’s school grade)-so don’t feel that it is your responsibility to finish their homework.
- Are you encouraging productive struggles or enabling your child to rely on you to get the work done? Speaking from experience watch out for the ‘I don’t get it’, ‘My teacher really didn’t tell me what to do’ or my favorite ‘I don’t think that this was really homework mom’ those tend to suck me right in to ‘helping’ finish the work that the teacher sent home for MY child-not ME to finish. The Search Institute recently blogged about 7 Ways to Cultivate Students’ Problem-Solving Skills which I used in writing the lesson follow up for my parents in the Woodson Coding Club called Productive Struggles.
- Break a few rules-sort of. I am really trying to stick to a schedule for homework. If my own children are struggling even after using some of the above resources-we take a break-or we sit down and write out what our questions are so they can bring it back to the teacher the next day to work it out together. However we have had nights as a family when *gasp* we don’t finish the homework! Instead we look for other ways to build our sparks for learning. My dear friend Principal Jessica Johnson has me on 30 minutes of family reading time. We set a timer and all read-every night. Isaiah and I have really also enjoyed some intense games of Uno and Skipbo while Kenny will spend hours programming BB8 and Sphero to complete new challenges. Is that homework as usually no-however it is encouraging and developing their sparks in learning in ways that you can’t get from a worksheet.
So don’t be afraid to ‘Break Homework’-be willing to speak up for your school-and for your own children to seek better ways to develop our young learners into lifelong ones.
Keep Dreaming BIG for our Littlest Learners!