It’s interesting when we talk to parents about our homework policy, which is that there isn’t any. Some parents feel unsure about this part of our school program, and others feel elated that they can skip the stress involved with trying to make their reluctant, confused, and tired child do homework at the end of a long day.
The common question we receive is this: isn’t homework necessary for developing a good work ethic, academic success, and so I know what’s happening at school?
The quick answer for parents of students in elementary school is this: no. Many studies have been done on the correlation between homework and achievement, with the common results that homework for children in elementary school does not actually improve academic outcomes. We are going to take these results seriously and not assign homework.
This recent article in the Washington Post examines this, too: The question of homework: Should our kids have it at all? The writer quotes Deborah Meier, an American educator and founder of the modern small schools movement, as stated in the Homework Myth, “Kids are natural learners: we do not need to inspire them to be so — we need to keep from extinguishing it.”
Our daily, weekly, and monthly calendars are set up so our students (we call them heroes) have enough time to develop mastery of key core concepts at their own pace. They move on when mastery is achieved, not when a curriculum guide states that everyone needs to carry on. We provide children with the time and support they need during the school day to completely understand something. This is why homework, paid tutors, or supplemental educational programs won’t be necessary!
In terms of knowing what your child is doing, and staying connected with the school is concerned, there are several ways we communicate with our parents.
Firstly, because we have so much cool technology, let’s use it! We actually have a cell phone so you can text us anytime to let us know about absences, being snowed in or, other reasons for missing school. We’ll keep a list of all of our parent’s numbers so we can communicate with you as needed.
We will be publishing a weekly blog post on this site, which describes what has happened throughout that week. In those posts we’ll talk about the quest we’re working on, the badges some heroes have achieved, and how our over-arching question was continually developed. This is a lot of new lingo! Have no fear: we’ll explain all of that to you in your parent handbook and as the year progresses.
Our Facebook page will be updated each day with important, fun, and cool information about our school. Parents can read through that whenever they like.
Parents will also be given the login information to see what stages their children have achieved in their various educational software used, as well as to see the Points Tracker to know what the heroes are working on in regards to quests and badges.
Instead of using homework as an evening or weekend activity, families will have the opportunity to connect in ways that suit them. If everyone wants to go for a walk together or huddle on the sofa with his or her favourite books, we certainly would support that! The point is that time after school is for exploration, being with friends and family, resting, doing fun activities, or doing nothing.
But what about homework for middle school and high school?
Our goal will be to continue to support our heroes learning by providing the support and time they need to master academic concepts during the school day.
Andrea Nair, our Head of School, was a high school math, chemistry, and physics teacher for ten years before achieving her Master’s Degree and becoming a counsellor. In her teaching time, she explained she didn’t assign homework even for those intense and challenging subjects, but rather made time available during the day for students to spend time with her until they felt good about what they knew.
It is important to all of us that teenager’s stress level is reduced so they can focus on achieving what they need to in order to get into the secondary programs they are interested in.