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Homework

The “Yes, Homework!” Policy at White Oaks School – Updated for 2017-2018

Dear Families,

As a Preschool-3rd grade school, we are committed to supporting learning, engagement, and the overall well-being of our children. In 2016-2017, we began implementing a new homework policy with these goals in mind. Our policy calls for intentional decision-making about what we’re assigning and why it’s important for an individual child’s learning. It’s a key element of our commitment to personalizing learning as outlined in our Strategic Plan.

Homework at White Oaks

  • Out of classroom learning will vary according to a student’s grade level, ability, need and interests, whenever possible.
  • All students will be expected to read and talk about books each day. (Read alouds and turn-talking count!)
  • Daily practice in math may be assigned in order to support skill mastery, as determined by teacher observations of student progress.
  • Beginning in October, teachers will provide a menu of learning resources to support parents in extending their child’s learning. In class, menus will be shared with children so that they can explore and express learning interests. We encourage parents to support children in selecting both the pace and the material as a means of fostering curiosity and helping children develop ownership over their own learning.
  • Additional assignments may occasionally be given when outside of class activities will deepen student-driven learning and/or project-based learning in the classroom.
  • Some students may need more time or different resources to meet grade level standards. Teachers and parents will work together to set goals, develop a support plan, and monitor progress.
  • We recognize that learning happens throughout a child’s day, and that children are most engaged when they are pursuing their own goals. We want to help make room in our students’ day for all kinds of learning!

Why?

Our staff engaged in a series of evidence-based conversations about what young children need in order to thrive. The following key points from research and our experience have been highlighted along this journey:

  • Homework assignments should be purposeful, meaningful, and tailored to the individual needs of students
  • Daily reading is key to each child’s long-term success
  • Development of organizational work habits and self-discipline are crucial. These skills can be developed in a variety of ways at home and at school, not only through the completion of homework.
  • Family time, play time, and down time are important for all children

At White Oaks, we’re building on these principles in our preschool-third grade environment.

Personal Learning
Research tells us that assigning all students the same homework does not improve learning. Children learn at different paces and in different ways, thriving when they can practice with guidance at a level just beyond their independent “learning zone”. This year, all parents will conference with the teacher in October to discuss personal learning goals unique to their child. Opportunities for at-home learning will be a part of this goal-setting conversation.

Play and Passions
Young children need extensive time each day for free play and to explore personal passions in the arts, sciences, athletics and more! After school hours provide an important block of time for these essentials. For young children, play is the primary vehicle for learning.

Responsibility
Elementary students are learning how to contribute to their classrooms and their households, pitching in to help with age appropriate responsibilities. After school can be a wonderful time to learn how to help out around the house and take care of pets. These hands-on opportunities build independence and a sense of self-efficacy.

Connections and Conversations
Young children need daily opportunities to connect with their families. Dinner table conversations, game nights, and family fun build strong kids! We know these connections are more possible when there is more free time for families in the evenings.

Sleep
Sleep is essential for emotional well-being, physical health, and learning. Health professionals recommend 10-13 hours a sleep each night for children ages 3-5 and 9-11 hours for children ages 6-13. As a community, let’s work together to prioritize sleep and help our kids feel ready and excited for the next school day!

To find the SCSD homework policy, please go to:

Find our strategic plan on the District Strategic Plan page

Resources to Learn More

Key Questions:

  • Do students today have too much homework or not enough?
  • Does homework lead to higher student grades and test scores?
  • When does homework promote increased student engagement in learning?
 
Book Excerpt from Overloaded and Underprepared: Strategies for Stronger Schools and Healthy, Successful Kids by Denise Pope, Maureen Brown, and Sarah Miles

Key Questions:

  • Does homework help students?
  • Does homework hurt students?
  • What are the characteristics of effective homework?

Video of Stanford Professor and Challenge Success Founder, Denise Pope

  • What does the research say about homework in the elementary school years?
  • What is the importance of daily self-selected reading?