Homework Policy Primary School 2013

Students daily study experience is dependent on both schoolwork and homework. Various studies conclude that students have heavy workload and a lot of homework and show a lack of interest and even aversion towards school. To compare and analyze parents assessment on the scale and amount of homework, the time spent on homework and its productivity. Within the education field homework is usually understood as an assignment given by the teacher to the students, which is to be done outside the lesson (Kidwell, 2004). Homework has a lot of functions 1) it helps to practice, use and confirm the lesson subject matter (Kidwell, 2004); 2) cultivates independent study habits which build discipline and willpower; 3) increases interest in the subject; 4) increases students level of knowledge (Painter, 2003). The study is handled as a case study (Yin, 2009), which compares the data collected on two different stages: 2005 and 2013. Data collection method was a form which data result analysis objective was to describe the homework loads, the amount of homework done with the help of parents and its level of difficulty. The aim is to compare the changes that have taken place within the timeframe. Sample consists of 6th grade students parents from 12 Estonian schools: 2005 N=205 and 2013 N=201. Conducted benchmarking results allow us to conclude that the situation has changed to a certain degree:

In 2005 parents stated that they mostly helped their children to study written materials, in 2013 it was oral material studies;

2013 study showed students required parental help in the same subjects as 8 years ago (2005): languages, mathematics and natural sciences;

parental attitude towards homework was continuesly positive.

In 2013 the number of parents who believed that the homework amount was to large had increased Homework helps to practice, learn how to use and confirm the study material, develops independent study habits and increase willpower and discipline. The comparative material confirms that a lot of students require parental help with homework and that some parents believe to the homework amount to be too large. A large amount of parents help their children with their homework which shows that the students are unable to conduct independent study.

The study showed that parents help their children mostly with mathematics and Russian and that some parents believed that the homework load was to large.

Click here for the school’s Homework tips to parents (document in Maltese).

At St Benedict College Ħal Għaxaq Primary School homework is considered as an integral part of the curriculum as it enriches and consolidates what has been learnt in class.  Homework is given as positive reinforcement of work done in school.  It is considered as a definite need and not as a time filler.

Our school’s homework policy reflects the consensus of opinion of the school council, parents and teaching staff. It has been drawn up as a result of staff and school council discussion and consultations with parents during parents’ meetings held at the beginning of the each scholastic year.  This policy has the full agreement of the parents and was amended and agreed upon on September 2009 during the meeting with parents.

The Purpose of Homework

  • To provide an enjoyable and purposeful supplement to class work.
  • To provide an opportunity for students to practice and reinforce principles, skills, concepts, and information taught in the classroom. This shall include the development of the basic skills in literacy, numeracy, oracy and independent research skills.
  • To be meaningful and appropriate to the ability and academic level of students.
  • To provide a practical opportunity for parents to become involved in the academic development of their child.
  • To provide a practical opportunity for pupils to foster self-discipline, self motivation and the wise and orderly use of time.
  • To serve as an Assessment for Learning tool for teachers.
  • To provide opportunities for students to stretch their zone of proximal development.
    The zone of proximal development is the gap between what a learner has already mastered (the actual level of development) and what he or she can achieve when provided with educational support (potential development) – Lev Vygotsky.

Types of Homework

Homework is not necessarily written work. It is any task that a child is asked to complete at home. It may consist of:

  • Writing tasks;
  • Studying, Revision and Learning tasks;
  • Reading tasks;
  • Oral tasks (such as preparing for the Show & Tell activity);
  • Carrying out independent research tasks (such as finding pictures, information, or creating projects, posters and/or charts)
  • Homework will be differentiated and adapted, where necessary, to take into account the various individual needs.

Time Targets

At St Benedict College, Ħal Għaxaq Primary School we appreciate the value of co-curricular activities and we strongly believe that homework should not prevent students from participating in after school activities such as sports, music, drama, dance and any other club which nurtures our pupils’ talents and social skills.  The actual time required to complete homework tasks will vary with each student’s study habits, academic skills, and age as follows:

  • Years 1 and 2: between 10 to 20 minutes;
  • Years 3 and 4: between 20 to 30 minutes;
  • Year 5:  between 30 to 40 minutes;
  • Year 6: between 40 to 60 minutes;
  • All pupils: Recommended reading time is between 10 to 30 minutes daily;

Teachers may opt for a No Written Homework Day where pupils are given reading, oral, revision, studying or research assignments only. The adoption of this measure is left entirely up to the class teacher’s discretion.

If your child is spending an inordinate amount of time doing homework, you should:
i. write a note on your child’s contact book and ask him/her to hand it to the teacher on the following day;
ii. contact your class teacher by fixing an appointment through the school’s administration (tel: 21 898260).

Teachers’ Responsibilities

  • To provide a range of homework tasks and activities, which are relevant to the curriculum, to consolidate learning in class;
  • To assign quality homework that is academically challenging and developmentally appropriate to the student’s level of competence;
  • To ensure the children have a clear understanding of the tasks involved and a common understanding of the high expectations held of them individually;
  • To provide students with a reasonable estimate of the amount of time necessary to complete each homework task;
  • To provide students the opportunity to ask questions to clarify homework tasks before leaving school;
  • To create an effective system how to communicate with parents and keep them informed of children’s progress, projects, topics to be studied and developed, as well as individual targets which have been negotiated;
  • To mark homework regularly and provide timely and appropriate feedback regarding the completion of homework tasks as a step toward mastery of standards;
  • To check that students are recording details of homework set in their notebooks;
  • To provide differentiated work which meets the pupils’ various individual needs;
  • To encourage pupils to carry out book reviews and creative writing tasks and to help them publish such works on the class/school blog; on the classroom display board; and/or on publications such as Sagħtar and Tagħna t-Tfal.

Pupils’ Responsibilities

  • To tackle home tasks promptly and with a positive attitude;
  • To take pride in doing their best;
  • To be organised so that books and copybooks needed at home are not left at school;
  • To be responsible so that books and copybooks needed at school are not left at home;
  • To complete and submit homework on the agreed date;
  • Students should record the homework set in their notebooks even if they have written it in detail in their copybooks;
  • To follow-up corrected work with the necessary editing and ”Corrections”;
  • To ask questions to clarify homework tasks before leaving school.

Parents’/Guardians’ Responsibilities

  • To provide suitable quiet surrounding where pupils can do their homework (e.g. turn off television when it is homework time);
  • To encourage younger family members to play quieter games if in the same room;
  • To remind students that homework is their responsibility;
  • To guide or assist in homework when unusual difficulties arise but never do the homework for their child;
  • To encourage their children to persevere with a task even if it seems daunting at first, and giving support if necessary;
  • To check for completeness, neatness and accuracy of homework tasks;
  • To encourage students to ask their teacher clarifying questions concerning their homework;
  • To give due importance to non-written tasks;
  • To encourage reading and independent research as an integral part of the children’s educational development;
  • To inform teachers of any changes in the child’s circumstances as this may affect their learning;
  • To monitor activities so that sufficient time is provided for homework;
  • To inform teachers if their children are spending an inordinate amount of time doing homework, by (i) writing a note on the child’s contact book and ask him/her to hand it to the teacher on the following day; and/or (ii) by fixing an appointment through the school’s administration (tel: 21 898260);
  • To check and sign their children’s notebooks and make sure that they have completed all tasks;
  • To check and sign their children’s communication book;
  • To check the corrected work and encourage their children to carry out the necessary ”Corrections”;
  • To read to children and listen to them reading regularly in both Maltese and English;
  • To encourage their children to do book reviews and creative writing tasks and to hand them to the class teacher on the following day.

(Policy updated on March 2013 as communicated to all parents through the official newsletter):

When children are sick, or absent from school for any other reason, the homework will be handed on their return. The teacher will guide the students to catch up with lost topics which are deemed important.

Homework is given primarily to extend and reinforce the classroom learning. So it is better for the teacher to guide the pupil himself/herself in understanding the new topics covered when he/she was sick.

If a child is too sick to be at school, he/she is probably too ill to complete the homework. In the meantime, the parents should be encouraged to read to, and with, their children more often.

Parents may be called to school by the school’s administration to discuss the matter if their children habitually and repetitively do not do their homework or do it in an unacceptable manner.

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