There are numerous philosophies on homework. Some schools give countless hours of homework and others no homework. At Clariden, we follow the research that supports that meaningful homework has the most impact on a student’s learning outcomes. Homework should not be busy work but rather should be work that enhances and advances a student’s base of knowledge and mastery of skill. Homework should provide an opportunity for students to apply knowledge learned in class and/or practice skills that are not yet mastered.
At Clariden, we like our students to work while at school. We have adopted the work hard, play hard philosophy. Students days are intentionally designed for them to have time within their day to do their work. Work completed at school gives teachers an authentic look at what students know and what they need practice with, as work is done without support from parents. It’s the student’s authentic work that tells teachers how to best guide the student’s learning. There are times that students don’t chose to complete their work or need additional time to complete their work. In these cases, work will go home as homework.
So, when does homework begin at Clariden? Well, in kindergarten and first grade “homework” is practicing reading or being read to. Research shows that reading skills and development align in kindergarten/first grade. Students need lots of opportunity to hear the written word and to practice reading skills. At Clariden, our teachers read with students, individually or in small groups, several times over the course of their day. Our small class sizes allow for students to get lots of practice during school as well as what we ask parents to support at home. For our preschool students that are early readers, their reading is supported as well within the classroom, with reading being encouraged at home for all our preschoolers.
For grades 2nd through 4th homework consists mostly of work not completed at school. In 5th grade, homework begins as we prepare our students for middle school. Middle school and high school have homework that is appropriate and meaningful for each level. One of the educator’s jobs is to prepare their students for the next level so homework for middle school looks different than homework for high school.
I’m told from students that come from other schools into our program that Clariden doesn’t give as much homework as their other school but that the homework we give is meaningful and “makes sense – it’s not just busy work.”
Clariden believes that children should have time to pursue outside activities, have time with family and friends, and to be able to explore, read a book for pleasure, play outside, learn to cook and ride a bike or drive a car. There is lots to learn and homework definitely has its place but it should not be all consuming. If it’s all consuming, we need to explore why. Is it too hard for the student, is the student procrastinating – struggling with time management/organization skills, are we playing too much and not working enough?
Homework on the average is increasing in most schools, as schools seek funding based upon test scores. At Clariden, our students test well with SAT and ACT scores above the state and national average. This validates for us and for our accreditation agency that there is no need for busy work and countless hours of homework. The quality of Clariden’s education, our educators’ strong ability to teach and our goal to instill a love for learning makes it possible for our students to work hard and play hard.
Sallie Wells, Head of School