Procedures and Practices
Purpose of homework
Homework generally serves four main purposes. They are:
- Practice – math computation or facts, spelling words, vocabulary
- Preparation – read a book, text or article prior to class discussion of a topic
- Extension – application of learning to new situations
- Creation/Integration – combination of many learned skills to construct a new product (project, report)
The ultimate purpose of homework is to increase learning and student success and to foster the development of positive character traits of responsibility and self-discipline.
Types of Homework
Homework assignments are created based upon the intended purpose of the teacher.
Examples of elementary assignments include:
- unfinished class work
- drill and practice exercises (spelling and vocabulary words, math facts and computation)
- preparation for tests
- research activities and reports – short and long term
- data collection
- reading and writing assignments
- media assignments – TV, radio, newspaper
- hands-on projects – mobiles, models, arts and crafts
- extra credit activities
It is generally believed that out of school tasks given to kindergarten students do not fall into the same category of homework, as for grades 1 – 5. Out of school work given to kindergarten students is really intended to be an opportunity for the children and family members to work together to review and enhance the experiences from school.
All out of school activities will be given in kindergarten for up to 60 minutes per week.
Kindergarten teachers are encouraged to develop the activities according to the following parameters:
- give written activities on Monday to be completed by Friday (these should amount to only 15 – 20 minutes/week)
- create activities such as: bring in an item from home or draw or cut out a picture for letter of the week
- encourage parents or other family members to read to children every day
- offer suggestions that provide practical applications at home for the skills learned in school (ex: set out 5 plates for dinner to practice the number 5, find names of objects that start with the letter of the week, etc.)
- encourage parents to review daily and weekly work with children to reinforce new skills at home
For Grades 1 – 5
It is generally agreed that elementary school children need to participate in a variety of activities, in addition to scholastic ones, in order to develop the total child. To this end, the following guidelines are recommended with respect to the maximum amount of time students should be spending doing homework. They are presented as ranges for each grade level on a daily and weekly basis.
Grade 1: 15 – 30 minutes daily. . . . . 1 – 2 hours weekly
Grade 2: 15 – 30 minutes daily. . . . . 1 – 2 hours weekly
Grade 3: 20 – 40 minutes daily. . . . . 1 1/3 – 2 2/3 hours weekly
Grade 4: 45 – 60 minutes daily. . . . . 3 – 4 hours weekly
Grade 5: 45 – 70 minutes daily. . . . . 3 – 4 2/3 hours weekly
Daily homework assignments will generally be given Monday through Thursday. Homework will not routinely be assigned on weekends. Occasionally, weekend and vacation assignments may be necessary for continuity of learning. Students are encouraged to use weekends and vacations for long-term assignments and daily reading.
These guidelines are developed based upon the average student at each grade level. Individual abilities, study skills and time management practices will determine the length of time a student will actually spend on any given task. Time to complete extra credit activities is not included in these time guidelines.
IF PARENTS FIND THAT THEIR CHILDREN ARE CONSISTENTLY SPENDING MORE TIME ON HOMEWORK THAN THE RECOMMENDED GUIDELINES, THEY ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO CONTACT THE TEACHERS TO DISCUSS THE CONCERN.
For students to be able to achieve the intended goals of homework assignments, communication between students, parents and teachers is essential. The following procedures are suggested:
- At the beginning of the school year the District Elementary Homework Guidelines will be distributed to all parents. Parents and teachers will be asked to review the guidelines and expectations with students. Each school has an Open House in September that provides an additional opportunity for presentation, review and clarification of the Homework Guidelines between teachers and parents.
- At the beginning of the school year, individual teachers will inform parents in writing of all homework expectations and procedures at the grade level and in their classrooms.
- Parents are urged to contact their child’s teacher when there are concerns about homework.
- Teachers are encouraged to use the fall conferences to solicit input from the parents/guardians of all students concerning the amount of time being spent on homework and any problems being encountered on a regular basis.
- In grades in which they are used, student assignment notebooks are useful tools for parents and teachers to communicate in writing as needed. Parent signatures on homework, tests or other student work may be required to facilitate communication between home and school. Parent cooperation is necessary with this requirement.
Student success with homework depends upon the cooperative efforts of students, parents/guardians, teachers and administrators.
- Use the assignment notebook to keep a record of all assignments, tests, and other responsibilities. Collect the necessary materials (books, worksheets, etc.) needed to complete the assignments.
- Ask questions and seek help from teachers if confused about the assignment or any part of the work.
- Be responsible for completing and returning all assignments on time to the teacher. This includes making up homework when absent. Follow all expected standards of quality concerning heading, neatness, content and directions.
- Budget time wisely and share time plans with parents/guardians, especially on long-range assignments.
- Study in a quiet place with few interruptions and distractions that limit focus.
- Assist children in setting up a regularly scheduled homework time at a reasonable hour each day. See that he/she meets that daily commitment. Allow sufficient time for homework even though children may also be involved in family and community activities (sports, scouts, dance, arts, etc.)
- Check the assignment notebook daily and encourage completion of all homework. Please remember that the homework is the child’s responsibility. Parents should not do the work for the children but should encourage accountability and monitor student efforts to show support. This applies to daily and long-range assignments and projects.
- Encourage children to have an organized approach to homework by providing all needed materials.
- If a problem arises over homework time, difficulty or completion due to extenuating circumstances, contact the child’s teacher.
- Be sure all assignments are created with a clear purpose and students are able to do them independently. (Example: give reasonable numbers of computation problems in math to avoid excessive practice.)
- Coordinate assignments and tests with other teachers to avoid student overload.
- Inform parents/guardians in writing regarding teacher expectations and student responsibilities at the beginning of the school year. Copies will be kept on file in the school office.
- Modify assignments to meet student needs, as necessary.
- Prepare students to do the assignments (explain tasks and directions, teach study skills, etc.)
- Given meaningful homework and provide students with prompt feedback on their assignments.
- Take into account participation in school-wide events, religious holidays, etc. in giving assignments.
- Inform parents/guardians of long-term assignments and expected timelines for completion.
- Teach and encourage students to use an assignment notebook and check it regularly to insure effective use of this tool.
- If a problem arises over homework quality or completion, contact parents/guardians.
- Set up a system for addressing late or incomplete assignments and communicate it clearly in written form to students and parents/guardians at the beginning of the school year.
- The practice of keeping a child in from recess on a repetitive basis should be discouraged. If homework problems are chronic other possible solutions should be sought.
- To assist in the dissemination and implementation of the Elementary Homework Guidelines to all teachers, parents/guardians and students
- To help to explain, clarify and interpret all parts of the guidelines and to assist in the mediation of disputes regarding homework practices to consistently monitor the implementation of the Elementary Homework Guidelines to insure full compliance by all teachers.
Grading of Assignments
In the primary grades (K – 2) daily assignments are not formally graded and reflected in report card grades. Concerns will be reflected under the Work and Study Habits sections on the report cards.
In the intermediate grades (3 – 5) daily and long-range assignments will be graded at the discretion of the teacher. Students will be informed when assignments are to be graded and factored into their report card grades for content areas. Teachers will inform students and parents of their systems for grading homework and penalties for late or missing homework assignments and projects.
Requesting assignments when students are absent
Students are occasionally absent from school due to personal illness, medical appointments, family emergencies, a death in the family, religious observance, etc. When an absence occurs the parents/guardians are asked to please notify the school office between 8:00 and 8:30 AM. If the parent/guardian believes the child is capable of doing work during the absence, the assignments must be requested by 9:00 AM. Parents/guardians are asked to indicate if the work is to be sent home with another child (suggest name) or picked up in the office at dismissal time. Teachers will do their best to compile all assignments before the end of the school day.
The Scotia-Glenville Central School District discourages the practice of families taking children out of school for an extended time period for the purpose of vacations or recreational trips. Since homework is both an extension and a reinforcement of class work, it is not as effective when done as an isolated exercise. Teachers also find it difficult to accurately project exactly what will be taught during a child’s extended absence. It is difficult to predict how concepts will be grasped and content understood by the group in advance of the actual lessons. As a result, formal homework assignments will not be prepared in advance for extended absences.
General suggestions for reinforcing reading, math, spelling and writing skills may be made in lieu of specific homework tasks. The specific assignments will be gathered during the period of absence and provided to the child upon his/her return to school. The child will be given a reasonable period of time to complete the assignments.
At times students may require additional support to be able to successfully complete homework assignments and long-term projects or to study for tests. At the elementary level there are several resources to help students and families. Please contact your individual elementary school for more information on any of the following:
1. Alternative Education Support Services – These services are open to students in grades K – 5 and are provided at various times during the school day. Because there are many reasons that students have trouble with homework there are many alternative services offered to help them to be more successful. These services include individual or small group support in areas such as (but not limited to):
• time management skills
• study skills
• test preparation
• organizational skills
• specific content and/or skills support
• social skills
• extra homework help on daily or long-term assignments (research materials, etc.)
A number of staff members help to provide these support services. Examples of these providers include:
• teachers (classroom, remedial, special education, enrichment)
• teaching assistants and teacher aides
• social workers
Students are recommended for participation in these services by teachers and/or parents/guardians. Groups meet during the school day during lunch, recess and other non-academic times. Consult the teacher or school office for specific information on these student services.
2. Tutoring – Tutoring can be arranged through the school office, especially in cases of extended absences. The high school guidance office is also a resource for securing high school students who are able to tutor elementary students.
3. Internet Homework Hotlines – There are a number of Homework Hotlines on the Internet that may be of benefit to students with occasional questions or problems regarding homework. Parents may wish to explore some of these options with their children. No specific Internet Resources or Hotlines are endorsed by the district. If students have on-going problems understanding homework assignments, parents are strongly urged to contact the teacher.
If you have any questions about these guidelines, please contact your child’s teacher and principal.