Friday, October 7, 2016

Do We Have Homework at St Joseph's - Yes!

My professional reading of late has led me to a variety of articles about homework; it was also a feature item on one of the morning shows recently. This topic can be a polarizing one in a school community as everyone has an opinion about homework, often based on their own experience as a student at school, on fear of what they hear about 'all the homework at high school' or what they believe to be hard and fast facts about traditional homework.

In our recent parent satisfaction surveys, feedback from some parents was that they liked the homework practices of St Joseph's and the positive impact it has had on their child and family right through to a couple of parents who want to see 'formal homework to return'. 

The research clearly states that for primary aged students, daily reading has a direct correlation to student outcomes and well being. Reading is the foundation key to all learning and as such it is our mandated homework.

In his blog about homework, Steve Watson states cites: "The Education Endowment Foundation indicates that the impact of primary age homework on attainment is minimal..." (Sept 2016)

What does our policy say?

"St Joseph’s School sites research which shows that daily reading for all students has academic benefits for primary aged students.

St Joseph’s acknowledges research which has found that homework can have negative effects on student well-being, cause inequities between students and cause tension in the family. Learning disability, socio-economic and language/cultural factors also impact on homework.

St Joseph’s School agrees that involvement in extracurricular activities is beneficial for students. It not only provides a stress release, but engages them in other ways and can develop teamwork and communication skills. This also aids in developing non-academic or broader life skills such as self-discipline, time management and problem solving. " (St Joseph’s School, Cairns Homework Policy)

The role of parents in the education process of their child is extremely important. This process started at birth and will continue long after formal schooling concludes. The homework practices at St Joseph's honours this and encourages the engagement in real life learning and well being within the context of family. 
Steve Watson offers the following as ideas for parents to engage with their child's learning:
"Good home learning will happen for children with parents who do things like:
  • Talk about the future (i.e. by creating a shopping list) with their children, help their children to think ahead (Planning);
  • Talk about how they have changed their mind about something, help their children to do likewise (Refining);
  • Listen carefully to what their child is saying, help their children to listen attentively (Listening);
  • Do not assume that everything they hear on TV must be true, help their children to be healthily sceptical (Questioning);
  • Talk about how things are similar and how they are different, help their children to spot connections (Making Links);
  • Try different ways of doing things when faced with difficulty, help their children to adopt a similar ‘can-do’ attitude (Perseverance)." (29 Sept 2016)
Some parents use formal homework as an indicator of how their child is going; while this can be the case in some instances, the best way to find out how your child is going is with regular contact with your child's teacher. At St Joseph's, we have introduced a variety of ways to do this, including face to face learning conferences and digital (see saw, dojo, class websites etc). Teachers are always willing to meet with parents and discuss the learning of their child, preferably with them present as their voice is important. 

So yes, we do set homework at St Joseph's. We set homework which we believe makes a difference to student learning, is supported by research and which honours the role of parents in teaching positive life habits and skills. 

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