There is no purpose in homework which will not be marked or play any part in future learning. It is then just a variation of busy work, put in place because someone said it should be done. It can be a cause of much stress, between child and parent, as well as home and school. So, what is the point of homework?
Traditional homework in Primary schools has included learning multiplication tables, spellings and reading to an adult. Worksheets are sometimes sent home with an activity following a lesson. Homework is usually given on a specific day each week, communicated to parents beforehand, so becomes a part of the weekly routine. As a result it can become a very repetitive activity, with activities deemed to be homework, for it’s own sake.
It is debatable whether the activity is valued and supported in every household. Intervention, interest and investment of time by “a significant adult”(Vygotsky)will determine whether the activities will a)be accomplished and b) have a positive impact on learning.
What if “homework” became a “bridging task”, with a clear rational purpose articulated to the learners and parents when set, to show that there was a point in it’s completion? Would the outcomes be more purposeful activity being set and more effort given to the the task?
Best home-school practices are promoted ahead of time. Parents are well prepared for the home activity event, either by word of mouth, through the children or pre-empted by a half termly newsletter detailing what to expect, with weekly follow up as necessary. Schools with different heritage languages make provision for parents to know what to expect.
What works? Tables, number bonds, spellings that have been worked on and practised in school, to be taken and memorised and books that can be read fluently so that they promote reading for enjoyment, hopefully shared with an interested adult. Home school books, where the reading journey is shared between teacher and parent are a valuable addition. Guidance bookmarks with reading expectations of a particular book or series allows guided conversations after reading.
Every teacher should have in mind the potential for activity to be undertaken at home which can add value to class time.
- Oracy and articulacy should be enhanced by any home activity, as they all should be capable of being discussed.
- First draft writing- Instead of spending an extended period of time in class writing the first draft, done at home, the follow up activity can focus on editing and improvement, leading to a second draft at home.
- Research- Setting a key question, which can promote an aspect of a subject or topic and enhance a subsequent lesson. Go home and find out…… Go home and ask…..We’ll use the information on…….
- Reading ahead of time. Take home a prepared piece of reading to extract significant points to support a discussion at a later date. (Flipping the classroom)
- Reflective activity. What do you think about>>>?
- Maths. Measure, count, collect information, how big, how many, how often? Bring back and use in data handling.
- Geography. Draw carefully, with measurements, a plan of….. your lounge/garden/ etc. Walk home and then draw a sketch plan of the journey.
- History. A My-story project. Find a set of five pictures from your own life and talk about them with an adult, to come back to school and tell your story.
- Art. Everywhere!