Make homework a more dynamic aspect of learning, rather than an add-on.
Homework is another of those “marmite” topics in education. Some love homework, others decry the imposition of activities on home life. Sending home a photocopied sheet with exercise that children might, or might not, have the skills to complete independently, can lead to enhanced levels of tension between parent and child and then between parent and school, doing no party any good. Equally, any activity undertaken at home deserves to be marked, so taking additional teacher time.
Where it serves a purpose, I have no issue with looking for ways to enhance the thinking and learning that has been a part of the school day and there is a very simple way to do this: -
The principle is a very simple one. Send home something worth talking about, which then has a direct link back into a future piece of school activity. If it true that learning is strengthened by teaching an idea to someone else, then to enhance home life through focused talk would seem to have potential dividends.
- At Early Years stage the teacher could, just before home time, remind the children what has been done during the day and ask them to talk to the adult picking them up about it.
- EYFS and later infant years could be sent home with a prompt question to be discussed, some exploration of an idea or a picture to be discussed and words collected, all with the purpose of feeding into a subsequent piece of talk-led writing.
- They could devise a plan to achieve something, explore a topical subject, eg listen to the news together.
- Juniors could be given the task of creating the storyboard for a story and then rehearsing the story with an adult.
- If there is the facility for sharing writing between home and school, then the production of early drafts could be as a result of parent/child collaboration, with editing and improvement at school.
- They could also engage with an interested adult/peer to explain an area of learning, with a short, 100 word précis, or diagrammatic notes of the discussion.
- Finding out information, or considering a more philosophical idea, to talk about and share.
Drafting ideas would save valuable school time for improvement. The teacher could then focus on those aspects, where feedback can really impact on learning.