Homework Policy In Elementary School

Goals for Homework

• To reinforce classroom instruction
• To develop good work habits, responsibility, self-direction, and organizational skills
• To extend and enrich curricula
• To assess independent work
• To provide parents with an opportunity to become informed about and involved in the child's learning


Time Allotments

The time allotted to homework should increase gradually from grade to grade. The time limits are guidelines that should remain flexible. Individual differences among children may be taken into consideration by parents and teachers.

Grade Level Suggested Average Per Day
K Varies based on weekly assignments
1 10-15 minutes
2-3 30-45 minutes
4-5 60-90 minutes

*Teachers require up to 30 minutes of reading time for kindergarten and first grade and a minimum of 30 minutes of reading for second through fifth grades. Reading together with or by an adult may be included in the time.


Types of Homework Assignments

Homework assignments will be consistent in most things, such as mathematics, spelling and reading. Other assignments will vary. There are several types of homework assignments you may expect to see over the course of a year:

Practice Homework
Practice homework helps students master skills and reinforce in-class learning. Learning spelling words and completing math worksheets are examples of this type of homework.



Preparation Homework
Preparation assignments prepare students for an upcoming lesson or quiz. Reading a chapter in preparation for discussion, pretests, and surveys are examples of preparation homework.



Extension Homework

Extension homework helps students take what they learn in class and connect it with real life. It requires students to transfer specific skills and concepts to new situations. Journal writing and conducting experiments at home are examples of extension homework.



Creative Homework

Creative homework helps students integrate multiple concepts and promotes the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. This type of homework often takes the form of open-ended questions and long term projects that allow students a choice.



Vacation Homework Guidelines

If your child will miss school for a significant amount of time, please let the teacher know before you leave. However, please be aware that teachers cannot accommodate requests for homework in advance. Missed homework will need to be made up upon return.



Responsibilities of Parents

• Provide a study area that is quiet, comfortable and free from disturbances.
• Set rules (when, where, how) for your child.
• Make available resource materials such as reference books, magazines, newspapers, and a dictionary.
• Assist the student with drill, such as learning how to spell.
• Check the finished product for neatness and legibility.
• Consider homework as non-negotiable (extracurricular activities should not interfere with timely completion of homework).
• Encourage reading for pleasure.
• Show confidence in your child’s ability; never do your child’s homework for him/her.
• Hold your child accountable for getting homework to and from school.
• Let the teacher know if your child is experiencing difficulty with the homework.


Responsibilities of Students

• Know homework assignments before leaving school.
• Take homework assignments and all necessary supplies home.
• Jot down a homework buddy's phone number to use if a day is missed or if there are questions.
• Spend the necessary time on homework each evening.
• Know that a best effort is demonstrating pride in homework.
• Seek help from parents only when needed.
• Submit finished homework to the teacher, neatly done and on time.

Responsibilities of Teachers
• Ensure homework assignments leave school with clear expectations.
• Share individual classroom homework expectations at Curriculum Night and in the first or second newsletter that is sent home.
• Plan homework that is meaningful and relates to specific instructional purposes.
• Make homework as interesting as possible.
• Plan homework tasks that are appropriate to studentsº ability levels.
• Give parents specific suggestions on how to help their children with homework.
• Give children a sufficient amount of homework as to meet the time guidelines for your grade.
• Check homework daily or as often as appropriate (for example, a long-term project would be checked on or around its due date).
• Provide students with feedback on their progress, or with comments that are specific to the assignments. This can occur as direct written comments on the assignments, as part of in-class discussions or through connections made with in-class assignments.

NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education

Found In: teaching strategies

Some researchers are urging schools to take a fresh look at homework and its potential for engaging students and improving student performance. The key, they say, is to take into account grade-specific and developmental factors when determining the amount and kind of homework.

So, what's appropriate? What benefits can be expected? What makes for good homework policies? Research doesn't have all the answers, but a review of some existing data yields some helpful observations and guidance.

How Much Homework Do Students Do?

Survey data and anecdotal evidence show that some students spend hours nightly doing homework. Homework overload is the exception rather than the norm; however, according to research from the Brookings Institution and the Rand Corporation (see the Brown Center 2003 below). Their researchers analyzed data from a variety of sources and concluded that the majority of U.S. students spend less than an hour a day on homework, regardless of grade level, and this has held true for most of the past 50 years. In the last 20 years, homework has increased only in the lower grade levels, and this increase is associated with neutral (and sometimes negative) effects on student achievement.

How Much Is Appropriate?

The National PTA recommendations fall in line with general guidelines suggested by researcher Harris Cooper: 10-20 minutes per night in the first grade, and an additional 10 minutes per grade level thereafter (e.g., 20 minutes for second grade, 120 minutes for twelfth). High school students may sometimes do more, depending on what classes they take (see Review of Educational Research, 2006).

What are the benefits?

Homework usually falls into one of three categories: practice, preparation, or extension. The purpose usually varies by grade. Individualized assignments that tap into students' existing skills or interests can be motivating. At the elementary school level, homework can help students develop study skills and habits and can keep families informed about their child's learning. At the secondary school level, student homework is associated with greater academic achievement. (Review of Educational Research, 2006)

What’s good policy?

Experts advise schools or districts to include teachers, parents, and students in any effort to set homework policies. Policies should address the purposes of homework; amount and frequency; school and teacher responsibilities; student responsibilities; and, the role of parents or others who assist students with homework.

References

Related Links

  • A Nation At Rest: The American Way of Homework ( PDF, 439 KB, 19 pgs.)
    Summary and comments from authors) - Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 25(3) (2003, Fall). Gill, B. P., & Schlossman, S. L.
  • Helping Your Child with Homework ( PDF, 378 KB, 25 pgs.)
    U.S. Department of Education. (2002). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • Research Spotlight on Best Practices in Education
    A list of NEA Spotlights on best practices.
  • NEA Reports & Statistics
    Research reports reviewing data on educational issues and policy papers concerning NEA members, educators, and the public school community.
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