Amongst parents and educators, there is much debate about the value of homework, both at primary-level schooling and upwards to secondary level.
The reality is however, that whilst some research has shown a positive correlation between homework and student learning outcomes (Cooper, 2006), the correlation of homework to achievement at the primary levels of schooling is at best very weak. There is also an argument that, whilst the children who may be given homework may do very slightly better academically than those who are not given homework, this link may not necessarily be causal (i.e. it may not be the homework that causes the improvement).
Bearing the research in mind, at St Mary’s, we do expect all children to do a small amount of home learning every day but this will directly support the child’s learning in class and will incorporate reading, mathematics and some physical activity. The purpose of the home learning is to help consolidate the learning that is being done in class. We want home learning to be a building experience and productive for both parents and children.
For children who are in Years 0 or 1 and just beginning to read, there will be an initial period of time when they don’t come home with a book to read. This is because they are not yet able to read. We ask that parents read a story book of their choice with them each day. Information will be sent home about the kind of questions you might ask an emerging reader about the story you are reading. Teachers may also send home some heart word cards (words children have to learn by sight) and may also have letter sound cards with some information about activities to do with them.
For junior children who are beginning to read, teachers will send home a reading book each day. The book may not be familiar to the child but should be accessible at their level. If the child struggles to read the book, it is important to stop as this can be harmful to their confidence. Let the teacher know and they will ensure a different book is sent home. At times, a longer text may be sent home and this may be read over several days. 10 minutes of reading per day is sufficient for a junior child.
For older children who are reading journals, the expectation will be that they do some personal reading each day. This will be from a book they have chosen themselves. The class teacher can support a child to choose a book that is appropriate for the child’s reading level. Again, it should not be too difficult. We want our children to love reading, not to feel discouraged because the book is too difficult for them. We encourage parents to engage in the reading process with the children, by reading to them, listening to them read and asking them questions about what they are reading.
More information will be shared with parents on a termly basis to ensure children are set up to be successful in their reading and to support parents to put the reading in place at home and to know how to engage with the child as they read.
15 minutes of reading is sufficient for a child in the middle school and 15-20 minutes is enough for a senior learner.
For all learners, teachers will send information home to parents on a termly basis about the kinds of mathematics activities children should be doing at home. The activities will be linked to the learning needs of the children. Children will be provided with some learning materials to support their learning and parents will be given support to know what kind of games or activities to do with the materials. Alternatively, for older children, some learning may be done online.
Once again, we would like juniors to do 10 minutes of mathematics home learning, middle school learners to do 15 minutes and senior school learners to do a maximum of 20 minutes per day.
Just as important as academic learning, is physical wellbeing, and we want all of our St Mary’s children to be physically active to support their overall wellbeing. We would like all children to do around 20 minutes of physical activity. This could be jumping on the trampoline, cycling, walking, doing organised sport or taking the dog for a walk for example.