Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A word about homework...

Good evening all,

This morning I had a very unpleasant surprise when 8 of 28 students arrived with untouched math homework. Not work that was too hard for them (because they completed it well in class and when called upon to give answers), but work that they did not even begin.

There were various explanations given.

My philosophy on homework is that it should provide reasonable practice of the skills and information we are using in class. It is NEVER new work the students haven't seen before, and ususally practice for what we have done in class that day.

It isn't busy-work, and it is important.

In order to make sure the students know what they have to do, we write the date on the page of work, and we write in the agenda that there is work to be done. In this way, students have seen the page of work and know where to find it. As a parent you can identify it by the date.

Math homework is always due to next day, since we need to correct and review before going on to new concepts. Math homework is found in the exercise book or in the green duotang.

Language Arts homework is usually assigned on Monday and collected Thursday, giving the students several nights to complete their work. Notebooks will vary depening on the assignment.

Reading is to be done every night, because every piece of educational research related to reading done in the last fifty years states that consistent and frequent practice of reading is the most important 'work' that students can do to improve their language skills and general learning. Read every day, and if even if you do nothing else, have them read. Read for pleasure. Read alone or together, but please read.

Homework in other subjects is rare and will be given ample time to complete.

If for some reason your child cannot complete their homework (appointments, unexpected events, practices and lessons), please let me know this in a short note in the agenda. I will always accept such notes, because they let me know that you are aware there WAS homework, and it wasn't possible to complete it.

It is very important to your child's schooling that you are informed of their progress. If they have not done their homework, I take three steps to correct the situation:

The FIRST time homework is not done:
I send a note home in the agenda, to be signed by a parent (please, not a babysitter or grandparent unless they are the legal guardian).
This solves the problem most of the time.

The SECOND time homework is not done:
Your child and I will call you, from school, to let you know the work is not done and to see if we can find a solution to this situation.
This generally solves most homework issues.

The Third time a student's homework is not done:
I call and ask for a meeting with you to discuss your child's progress in school and how to accomodate homework in your lifestyle.
I have had to do this only once since beginning teaching in 1998.

The reason I do this, instead of, say, giving detention, is that I cannot supervise the completion of homework - I can only assure that your child works in class. Homework is, by definition, to be done at home. It is a way for you to know what your child is learning, and to supervise and participate in their learning in a one-on-one way which is not possible in the classroom.

If you are having a hard time getting your child to do the homework, there are different strategies and approaches we can discuss, so please contact me and it will be my pleasure to speak with you.

If you have comments or questions, please feel free to respond to this post, or to contact me directly.

My best to you and your families, I am off to bed!
Kathy Napier

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