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Homework – Relevant And Short, In Primary Schools

Homework – Relevant And Short

Homework – Relevant And Short is a discussion of important issues relating to every primary school child. It needs serious thought in primary school circles. We know, as teachers, that one of the most effective ways to teach is to  correct the class’ work. This should be done in the last ten minutes of a lesson.  This immediate feedback is the way children learn fast.

What This Means For Homework

The best way to give homework is to set short activities. These aim to reinforce what is taught in the classroom. Each child is given the best opportunity to practise a new skill without supervision or distractions. What was learned at school is cemented into the long term memory with a short practice worksheet to do at home. But many schools are not doing this.

[Some school systems prefer to call it ‘home learning’. For some reason the word ‘work’ has negative meanings in some schools]

And … Applying The Same Idea For Home Tutoring

Just as children can receive immediate feedback in the classroom the same principle can apply to home tutoring. Each literacy unit available on this website can be used by any parent to set for their own child. The parent is providing immediate feedback through the lesson.

Very little research on the benefits of homework has been done in Australia. Most of it has been carried out overseas. The debate has been going on for a hundred years or more.

We see pointless activities given to primary school children as homework. These appear to lack educational objectives. We also see some schools overloading children with homework, including time-consuming projects.

Professor John Hattie of Melbourne Graduate School of  Education ( http://education.unimelb.edu.au/profiles/profiles/laureate-professor-john-hattie/ ) said in an interview with the BBC in 2014,

“The worst thing you can do with homework is give kids projects. The best thing you can do is to reinforce something they’ve already learnt.”

So true! In a fifteen minute homework task, children consolidate learning while it is fresh in their minds from school. And the job is effective and finished.

What Should Be Done In Class And Not At Home

If teachers set projects, the basic work needs to be done in the classroom. The teacher teaches in whole-class instruction. Some work can be carried out in the IT lesson. And some work at home – but not most of it and definitely not all of it.

Children need direction and help with planning. They need help with collecting pictures or time to do their drawings. These are definitely not tasks to be set entirely as homework. Yet, many schools are doing this.

The older the class is, the more steps they can undertake alone. But this is not the case with the lower and middle grades.

Ask Your Child’s School To Justify The Homework Given.

Professor Hattie encourages schools to think about outcomes. He has recommended that School Education Departments discourage schools from adopting homework policies.

“Rather than prescribing a particular way of doing it, let us ask them to provide evidence that the homework policy the school is adopting is improving the outcomes for kids.”

If you –  as a parent – feel that the task is burdensome, or has limited educational benefits, then it’s time to talk with the school.  Tasks that have limited educational benefit could include

  • un-jumbling twenty words and
  • finding little words inside big words. In this latter case, the small word can be pronounced entirely differently from the syllable in the big word.

If parents find themselves having to do half of their child’s project, it’s time to raise the matter with the school. If your child is not getting a weekend without work then it’s also time to say to the school that this doesn’t seem right.

What You Can Do About Homework You Don’t Agree With.

  • Raise the issue with the Classroom Teacher.
  • If you have no joy, make an appointment to see the Vice/Deputy Principal, [Deputy Head Teacher].
  • You can say during an interview at school that you will allow 15 to 20 minutes per school day for tasks at home. Apply this to the following situation:  Your child is still required to do set work. If the school says the rules apply to all children. Regardless of whether the work is finished or not, tell the school twenty minutes is the limit.
  • If the homework is so important then insist that the teachers themselves mark the work. In many schools teachers still ‘swap books’. And these are young teachers – astonishing considering their recent training. This practice demeans the sometimes enormous effort of the child (and often the parents).
  • Insist that your child is not kept in for any homework reasons.

I must add that excessive homework is often at the insistence of parents or pushy parent groups. Parents pressure schools to do this even when the professionals don’t agree with it.

This is about taking control. It is about insisting on good practice in the classroom. It is about applying good homework tasks that are based on sound research findings.

Homework tasks should be short and to the point for primary school children.

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