It’s unreal how fast time goes by. It’s also extremely funny how life constantly repeats itself, or at least come full circle. As an educator for almost 20 years I’ve been involved in my fair share of home work controversies. Either too much, or too little… not clear enough directions or not enough time to complete. As an elementary schiol principal I see how some homework policies of the past are outdated and as a parent I see how there is a need for more clarity around what is expected from the children and what is expected from the parents.
Homework these days is a controversial topic. It’s like politics, no matter the side you’re on, you vehemently disagree with the other. As an educator I have read pages of research, fevoeeed surveys and observed and reviewed my own teachers’ homework expectations, assignments and procedures. I believe homework should be designed to emphasize quality tasks aligned with curricular objectives, have a clear academic purpose, and be relevant and engaging to students. It shouldn’t be busy work and definitely shouldn’t be a chore for parents, or cause stress or anxiety to the students.
As a parent of child with particular strengths and areas of particular need I completely understand the why it’s so important to create assignments that allow for accommodation of varying student needs and how providing the appropriate resources is vital for student success. Homework, even for my little three year old should be differentiated, as it should be for all learners with variety and choice.
The big piece for me… something I feel is crucial to making homework an effective keening tool is the “feedback and use of the homework as an assessment of and/or for leaning. Is what my so is being asked to do going to support his goals and objectives and also support his growth and development towards mastering grade level standards as homework should be designed as means to assess on going learning.
The Roles of Parents/ Guardians has spawned conversations in educational board rooms and social media platforms for years. For ages, parents have questioned how they are supposed to balance unstructured time with their children when they work all day, go to sports practice, piano lessons and then still have hours of homework. But honestly what should the role of a parent be in the homework process. I always tell my parents at school, “let us do the heavy lifting. Let us do the teaching during the day. We want you to just enjoy your time with your child. Spend time together and love reading.” I want parents to serve as a support to students and not have to teach new skills.
As learning styles and needs vary between students, so should that of what we ask our students to do for homework. Teachers should be purposely planning their assignments including the accommodation of varying student needs and resources as well as their current academic strengths and areas of need. This includes assignments that are differentiated for all learners with variety and choice with the expectation that teachers are using homework as means to assess on going learning and that students are receiving feedback will be timely and specific.
With that in mind, I was exciting to work on Jackson’s first homework assignment/project. As the students are working on communication skills and the identification of “self” Jackson was asked to create a sign that depicts the things he likes. (I may or may not have broken a few rules and done a few parts of the project myself)… but then again he’s three… he can’t hold scissors yet let alone cut with them. I think his poster shows off his varying likes and also is a good support for him when he is communicating those likes to others. Hopefully, homework assignments in the future are as fun as this was to do!