The Avon Elementary School Staff, through our School Improvement Team (SIT), have been reviewing the homework philosophy and guidelines that were created over eight years ago. We wanted to see how our current homework practices aligned with best practices for student learning. In April 2015, SIT sent out a survey to families to gather information, which would help guide our decision-making. The entire staff at the school also explored current research on homework practices for elementary-aged students during staff meetings. Several articles which discuss homework research can be found below. One important idea that emerged from reading these studies is that there is little to no link between homework at the elementary level and student growth/achievement. Some research has shown negative effects for children including limiting time for children to take part in family activities, limiting time for unstructured play, and developing misunderstandings through practice of skills not yet fully learned.
The discovery that our current practices were taking up valuable time with little to no benefits in terms of increased student learning caused our school to consider other options. After review of the research and examination of the parent survey results, the school staff decided to rewrite the homework philosophy and move to a new Home Learning Philosophy.
Home Learning Philosophy:
As a school community, we believe that parent involvement is directly related to academic achievement. Through home learning activities, learning that takes place in school is reinforced at home. We firmly believe that open-ended learning is what helps elementary aged students develop a passion for life-long learning.
Even though research does not suggest that there are benefits to teacher-assigned homework at the elementary level, there are certainly benefits to learning outside of school. As we make this shift, we will still emphasize regular communication between school and home about the lessons taking place, and offer ideas to families about how to continue student learning outside of school. While this does mean changes in the up-coming school year, we believe that this will have a positive impact on our students and their time together as families.
What is Home Learning?
The shift from homework to Home Learning aims to achieve the following goals:
Communicate learning between school and home
Encourage lifelong learning habits in developmentally appropriate ways
Provide opportunities to extend classroom learning at home
There are infinite ways to encourage and challenge your child to continue learning after the school day ends. Suggestions that support all areas of our curriculum (library, music, art, health/fitness, speech/language, etc.) were sent home to families in September 2016. We encourage you to take a look at the ideas with your child and pick a few to try out throughout the year.
How will Home Learning be communicated to families?
Starting in October, at all grade levels, families will see invitations each month to participate in a variety of activities that supports in-class learning for math and English language arts skills. These activities can be done at any time throughout the month. While no work is required to be returned to school, we value your feedback if you would like to share something about your child's learning. Your child's teacher will have more information in their newsletters next year.