“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
“HOMEWORK”. The mention of the word immediately brings to mind memories, assumptions and expectations. Some of our experiences will have been helpful; for example, the fostering of independent work habits, or the opportunity to develop on our own an area of school-work which has interested us. Other experiences will have been oppressive; for example, parents sitting over us while we completed mechanical tasks set by school.
In a Christian school, the task of educating a child, in its fullest sense, is one in which parents, teachers and the children themselves have different, but overlapping, roles. Homework can be one means of strengthening that partnership. It can also develop within the child a sense of responsibility for his/her own learning, which has already begun at school.
This statement, and the guidance it contains, should act as a general framework. Individual children, and differing home circumstances, will require different approaches, although the basic principles will remain the same. The biblical imperative to parents to take seriously their responsibility for their children’s education is quite clear. Each parent and teacher will need to be constantly before the Lord in respect of the best approach for each child. The heart attitude of taking prayerful responsibility for the education of the child is what is important, although the outworking of that responsibility may be different for different parents and children.
In Mannafields, God has provided us with all the means to exercise this responsibility. How much we need the renewing and transforming of our minds as the first step to being able to see with His eyes what He intends for our children!
How can homework support parents, teachers and children in developing the aims of the school?
- Homework can provide an important link between home and school, giving parents a further opportunity to be involved in their children’s learning.
- It gives children, if they wish, the opportunity to develop further, at their own pace, things which have interested them at school.
- It informs parents of the strengths and weaknesses of their children, gives them and their children a common focus for talking about school, and praying about success and failure.
- It can strengthen the relationship between parents and teachers.
- It can be a measure of the extent to which the child is stimulated by on-going school work.
- It can provide motivation for children (‘seed-thoughts’) to follow up in school interests and questions which have been opened up in the home.
- It can provide training for children in organisation and self-discipline.
Both parents and teachers have a responsibility (though in different ways), under God, for the children’s learning and development in all areas of their lives, so that the child may become a whole person dedicated to serving the Lord and equipped for His work.
Children also have a responsibility towards their own development, which needs to be supported, promoted and encouraged, in prayer, love and collaborative venture, by parents and teachers.
Homework, as one part of the parent-teacher-pupil partnership, has an important role to play in this process.
Homework does not have to come as set tasks from school. There are many things which parents can do to support their children’s spiritual, academic, social and creative development.
- Reading the Bible, discussing its meaning and application, and praying with children will support and extend the school’s spiritual programme.
- Spending time talking and reading to, or with, your child, engaging in informal maths tasks (e.g. while cooking, measuring, travelling, shopping, playing), supporting work on geography and history ( during travel, family outings, home reading), talking about the science of everyday activities in the home and environment. Of course, it is important that this is done in a relaxed, and not in a pressuring, way.
- Encouraging and supporting children to do jobs at home, and to take pride in work well done, without reward (e.g. cleaning, ironing, mending, painting, etc.); helping children to perfect tasks like shoe-tying, personal grooming, preparing the lunch-box/schoolbag, etc.
- Encouraging and supporting children as they engage in hobbies (e.g. gardening, sport, cycle maintenance, dance, arts and crafts, collecting).
To develop the link between home and school, parents should encourage their children to communicate their achievements and interests (however mundane and trivial they might seem) to the school, and teachers should recognise and build upon them.
Parents may wish to devise tasks to support school work, using guidelines which are provided by school staff. Guidelines will be given on the content of each topic, with ideas on how topics might be extended at home. e.g.
- Parents could go over Bible passages related to the theme, or already covered in class. These would be suggested in guidance coming from schoo
- Talk over work done in class with their child/ren
- Arrange trips either to extend or to consolidate work done in school (e.g. let your child take YOU on a trip which s/he has already been on with school)
- Help children in specific investigations either to extend, or to consolidate, work done in school
- Suggest creative ways of presenting work done, and encourage pride in presentation
Parental support needs to be provided with love, encouragement and genuine interest, not harshly, critically, competitively or destructively. Remember the words of Paul:
‘Parents, do not exasperate, embitter or irritate your children, or they will be discouraged’ (Colossians 3 : 21)
Some parents may feel that they can support their children more effectively in other ways, perhaps by working on one of their own interests with their child, or by focusing on one of the child’s interests.
Parents also have an important role in set homework. They should make sure that they are aware of what set homework their children need to be completing and for what days. This will allow parents to help their children with organising their homework. Younger pupils will need a lot of help with this, but parents should encourage pupils to take responsibility for this as they are able. Parents are asked to sign completed homework so that we can ensure that parents have the opportunity to see all the homework that their children are doing. They should feel free to comment on their child’s performance whether on things that have been done well of problems that they have had in completing it.
Parents are welcome at any time to discuss the homework with the class teacher. This may include how the programme of homework fits with their child’s particular circumstances. The pattern of homework can be adjusted to fit particular arrangements of pupils, but parents should always ensure that sufficient time is available for homework.
Teachers will give guidance to parents on topic areas, biblical references, methods of study, and specific areas of extension. (See part A. No. 2)
In addition, teachers will give specific tasks to children. These will usually be given with a week’s notice to allow a fit with home routines. P6 and P7 will be given homework more frequently, but with similar notice given. Parents should be made aware of completion days for homework. Advice will be given to parents on reading with their children.
Teachers should seek pupils’ and parents’ feedback on the time being taken to complete homework. Pupils will have homework jotters where homework other than reading will be noted. Parents should sign their child/ren’s homework jotter or reading card to say that they have seen satisfactory completion of the homework.
The homework jotters will also be used to communicate things that the teacher would like to bring to the parents attention, mostly in the form of merits and demerits (see discipline policy). Parents should look out for this and sign to say that they have seen it. These tasks will generally follow the following pattern:
P1 & 2
During this time the development of reading skills is the main task: reading with parents, reading alone and learning sounds and words. Learning memory verses, songs and poems occasionally. Research at the level of asking parents about something.
Reading will continue to be of central importance. Thinking of words with particular sounds or letter blends will be frequent. Maths sheets and spelling homework will begin. Research at the level of asking parents about something. Learning memory verses weekly, and songs and poems occasionally.
Reading with parents continues to be important at this stage. Research tasks: simply to ask their parents about something, use of reference books will begin, and pupils will need considerable parental support in doing this. Learning memory verses weekly, and songs and poems occasionally. Maths and spelling weekly. Creative writing.
Reading with parents continues to be important at this stage. Learning memory verses, songs and poems occasionally. Research tasks will develop at this stage, with pupils being asked to present the researched information. Maths and spelling weekly. Creative writing.
Many pupils will begin to read more on their own for pleasure. This is an activity that should be encouraged without children feeling pressurised or that their privacy is being invaded. To do this, parents can help children to find access to books and discuss their own and their children’s reading. Hearing reading continues to be useful. Research tasks will continue with more writing being expected as a result. These should contain options to allow following of enthusiasms. Maths weekly, often in the context of research tasks. Learning memory verses weekly, and songs and poems occasionally. Spelling weekly. Creative writing.
Reading for pleasure. Parents should continue to encourage and help in finding more quality books that would be of interest. Researched writing should build up to extended pieces of writing using several sources. Sources may include personal experience, information from other people as well as texts. Subjects for research should stem from pupils’ interests. Completion dates by negotiation. Maths weekly, often in the context of research tasks. Learning memory verses weekly, and songs and poems occasionally. Spelling weekly. Creative writing.
In setting these tasks teachers should look for:
- Tasks which derive from children’s enthusiasm for work done in class,
e.g. extension of topic work
finishing off books or writing tasks
- Creative tasks, designed to encourage a joy and sense of achievement in learning and doing.
- Enjoyable tasks. This may, at times, include rote learning. This activity can be made enjoyable when combined with art work, music or dance.
- Tasks which a child, in negotiation with the teacher, has committed him/herself to complete within a certain time period. This will encourage, particularly with P6-7 pupils, the establishment of helpful study practices. It will also enable children to pace themselves and monitor their own achievements.
- Self-evaluating tasks. This will ease the burden of marking for teaching staff, and will help pupils with self- or peer-evaluation.
Pupils need to be taught and encouraged to work independently, to enjoy study. to take a pride in achievement, and to see school as a partner and extension of home.
We will achieve this by:
- Constant encouragement
- Training children to set and plan their own targets, re: quantity, quality and time limits, and to manage their own learning environments
- Helping children to select tasks which they need/want to complete, and to choose how they complete them. This will give them a sense of responsibility for their own study and a sense of ownership of their own work
- Training and encouraging children to monitor their own performance
- Rewarding good effort and excellence in any sphere of activity – creative, academic, social or spiritual
- By providing a stimulating, creative and exciting environment for learning which treats children as thinkers, learners and problem- solvers, as well as proficient performers of mechanical tasks
- By prayer
In P7, we envisage that homework will be more extensive and more regular, so that children will be prepared for the very different regime of the secondary school.
“So let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds…let us encourage one another …and all the more as we see the Day approaching.”
Hebrews 10 : 24, 25