The existing homework policy of St Patrick’s NS Clonbullogue was reviewed during December 2016/ January 2017, in consultation with the teaching staff and the parent body as represented by the Parents’ Association committee.
As with all school policies, a core aim of the homework policy is to aid each child’s progress towards his/her full potential with the assistance, support and co-operation of parents. By setting homework on a regular basis from Junior Infants to Sixth class, we aim to inculcate in children a sense of their own responsibility for learning, leading to self-independence in learning.
The value of homework
St Patrick’s NS through this Homework Policy promotes the concept of homework for the following reasons:
- Homework indicates to parents the type of work being done in school and so provides a link between home and school.
- It is useful for reinforcing work done in school.
- The discipline of working independently outside of the school setting develops good work habits and intrinsic motivation.
- It allows for project work and the development of independent research skills.
- It provides a motivation for children to get as much work done in school as possible, thereby developing good time management and efficiency skills.
- Homework encourages children to take responsibility for their own learning.
- It can offer the teacher a method to assess the levels of pupil understanding of a particular concept.
- It allows parents to identify particular strengths or weaknesses their child may have.
- It allows parents the opportunity to signal their interest in the child’s school work and progress to the child.
- Homework may offer the child an opportunity to discuss school and their learning with their parents.
- It helps the child develop independent learning skills that are essential for success at second and third level and in the workplace.
- Oral homework gives the child an opportunity to advance their verbal and linguistic skills in a way not always possible in the classroom setting.
Frequency of homework
Homework is usually given on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, but not at weekends. Homework at weekends may be necessary if children need to catch up on work missed. Children are encouraged to read at weekends. Children in middle and senior classes may sometimes be required to work independently on projects at weekends. In the senior classes, to encourage the children to take responsibility for managing their own time, and to prepare them for second level, the due-date for a homework task may be some days in the future.
On very rare occasions, at the discretion of the class teacher or the principal, children may be given “homework off” as a treat or as acknowledgement of some special occasion. If there is a school event in the evening that would hinder the completion of homework, or the teacher deems the class to be particularly tired (e.g. first day back after the summer holidays), he/she might decide not to assign homework. Generally however homework is viewed as a core part of the school day, and as an important component of the child’s learning.
In cases of misbehaviour a child may on occasion be asked to write out at home a school rule/ list reasons for the existence of a school rule in order to reinforce the school’s code of behaviour. This fulfils many of the criteria for homework above (e.g. reinforcing learning, providing a link between home and school, enabling the child to improve their skills, allowing the parent to identify an area of weakness etc.) but is usually classed as a punishment exercise rather than homework. Children may have to complete school-work at home if they have not achieved it in school due to distraction/ poor effort etc. The concept of homework is generally presented in as positive light as possible, as an aid to learning.
Content of homework
Ideally homework will contain a balance between reading tasks, learning tasks and written tasks. This balance is not always possible and can vary considerably from day to day. However, it should be noted that homework time devoted to reading and learning is as important as written work. Homework will regularly contain reading, spellings, tables, written work, rote learning, drawing/colouring, collecting information and finishing work started in class.
Children and parents often feel that reading and “learning by heart” is not real homework. However this type of homework, most especially reading, is of crucial importance. Parents can play an important role in listening to reading and items to be learned ensuring that this work is done well.
Time guidelines for homework.
The following are guidelines for the time to be spent at homework. Different children will complete the same homework in different lengths of time. Time spent will vary from day to day and also from the beginning to the end of the school year. It is important to remember that it is the quality and not the quantity of homework that matters. Time spent on homework should be calculated based on continuous solid work with no distractions.
Guidelines to the length of time for each class:
Junior/Senior Infants: 10 - 20 minutes
1st/2nd class: 30 - 40 minutes
3rd/4th class: 40 - 50 minutes
5th/ 6th class: 50 – 60 minutes
If the time spent at homework exceeds the above guidelines by 15 minutes (junior end) / 30 minutes (senior end) on any particular evening, parents are advised to tell the child to leave the remaining homework undone and write a note explaining this to the class teacher. If the above time guidelines are proving excessive due to the individual circumstances/needs of any particular child, parents are advised to discuss their concerns with the class teacher and the content of homework may be differentiated accordingly. Children should be encouraged to move through homework at a reasonable rate e.g. not spending all the homework time on an activity on which they are ‘stuck’ or devoting excessive time to colouring etc.
- Listen in class so they hear the relevant instructions
- Enter assigned homework correctly in their homework journal
- Ensure they bring home the relevant copies and books
- Complete all homework assignments to the best of their ability
- Present written work neatly
- Pay adequate attention to reading and oral activities
Parental participation in their child’s education is vital and parent involvement in homework is very beneficial for the child.
- Be supportive of their child and show an interest in work done and an awareness of their child’s progress.
- Encourage a positive attitude towards homework in all subjects from an early age.
- Encourage children to work independently as far as possible. Resist over-helping.
- Encourage children to organise themselves for homework. Demonstrate the importance of having all materials to hand, and ticking off items in the journal as they are completed.
- Encourage good presentation of work, and completion of homework in a reasonable time.
- Decide on a suitable time for doing homework, taking into account age, the need for playtime, relaxation and family time.
- Provide a quiet study area with an appropriate work surface, free from distractions, interruptions and television.
- Sign the homework journal daily, after checking that all the assigned homework is complete.
- Ensure that the child has replaced all the relevant materials back in their school bag in preparation for the following day.
- Foster a love of reading in their children, encouraging them to see reading as a valuable leisure activity.
- Communicate difficulties to the class teacher if necessary.
If for any reason, e.g. family circumstances, after-school therapies/interventions the child is unable to complete their homework, we ask that parents write a note explaining this, and we will endeavour to be understanding.
Teacher monitoring of homework
Homework is checked regularly at the discretion of each class teacher, depending on the type of work given, the age of the children etc. Particularly in the senior classes the children themselves may mark their homework under the direction of the teacher and this can be a useful part of the learning process.
When homework is regularly incomplete or not to an acceptable standard the teacher contacts the parents with a view to resolving the situation. Parental co-operation is essential for the successful implementation of the school’s homework policy.
This policy was ratified by Board of Management of St Patrick’s NS Clonbullogue on 15 February 2017.