Head of School Blog

Getting Back into the Homework Groove

Jill Singleton: Volume: 4 Issue: 1 - September 9, 2014

Now that the (not so) hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer are behind us, it’s time to focus on the establishment of routines and habits that will play a significant role in ensuring your child’s success at All Saints. The two most important things we can do for our children, in my opinion, are 1) make sure they get to school on time, and 2) establish effective homework habits and routines. I’d like to take a minute to share the school’s revised homework policy with you.

As returning families know, we spent some time last year analyzing the research related to the efficacy of homework nationwide, and we surveyed our own families to solicit feedback about the homework policies and practices at All Saints. One hundred and twenty parents responded to the brief survey, providing us with a fair amount of data and a number of recommendations for consideration. Our biggest take-away was that homework remains a controversial issue in our school and across the country.

It became clear to us early on that no one policy is going to meet everyone’s needs and make everyone happy. Despite the many challenges, however, we were committed to identifying a homework policy that optimizes success at each grade level. Throughout the spring and summer months the administration met with teams of teachers to analyze the feedback and discuss changes that could be made to the homework program that would enhance student learning in a meaningful way and bring our policy more in line with our mission and philosophy about learning.

As a result of this exploration, some changes were made to our homework policy, effective September, 2014.

  1. In Nursery and Pre-Kindergarten, homework is not assigned to students. Parents are encouraged to read with their children daily, with the goal of instilling a love of reading and encouraging curiosity about new topics.
  2. In Kindergarten and First Grade, homework will continue to be assigned on a nightly basis and parents are expected to provide needed support and to help establish foundational study habits. These policies have not changed.
  3. In Second Grade, students will transition to completing work independently. Beginning in Trimester 3 of Second Grade and for the remainder of their time at All Saints, students are expected to complete their homework without assistance from adults.  Once homework is introduced after Back to School night, students will gradually be introduced each week to a new section/type of homework.  This will allow adults at home and at school to give students guidance on how to approach each type of assignment along with time management skills.  Adult guidance eill taper off throughout the rest of the Trimester so that students are prepared to complete work independently in Trimester 3.
  4. In Second-Fourth Grades, homework will be assigned weekly to allow for the flexibility needed to balance home-related and extracurricular activities, and continue fostering time management skills. The type and variety of homework assigned, as well as the subject areas covered, will be expanded. The “skill and drill” tasks previously assigned will be replaced with more meaningful, open-ended, engaging assignments that have a stronger focus on the development of critical thinking skills.
  5. Middle School students will receive an electronic agenda on Monday, with the homework assignments for that week, as well as long term assignment due dates, for each academic class. Students can access their assignment descriptions via the internet.
  6. In an effort to support a balanced life outside of school, All Saints will no longer assign “optional” homework. In cases where students are legitimately struggling with curriculum-related concepts, supplemental assignments may be considered.
At Back to School Night, teachers and parents will have an opportunity to discuss in more detail our new homework guidelines and policies. We look forward to working with you in a partnership during this transitional year as we bring our homework program to new heights!
Comments? Thoughts? Ideas? I’d love to hear them! Email me: jsingleton@allsaintshoboken.com