Home “Work” & Home “Learning”
Homework versus Home Learning
Being busy is not the same as learning.
“A 2006 synthesis of research on the effects of homework found no correlation between amount of time spent on homework and achievement for elementary school students, a moderate correlation in middle school (Review of Educational Research).”
There are very few educational issues that serve as a bigger flashpoint than homework. Before delving into this hot topic, it is helpful to distinguish between “work” and “learning.” I’ve always disagreed with the use of “work” to describe learning. Being busy is not the same as being thoughtful, purposeful and connected.
Concepts, Not Drills
Imagine 25 students being assigned the same Mathematics worksheet of 20 questions to complete at home, despite the students being at notably different points in their learning journey. Compare this to students having a choice to tackle one of several problems, each requiring research, creative thinking and possibly having several different answers. And imagine each response requiring a rationale that encompasses several mathematical strands, not just a short right-or-wrong answer.
There is a dramatic difference between the two approaches. The former is home work, the latter is home learning. Through the perspective of the PYP, there is a role for drill and skills practice, but we believe a thoughtful and purposeful approach that emphasizes concepts leads to the most substantial and enduring learning.
This is not a blog post supporting the removal of homework from CDNIS. But we must examine what we are asking our children to do in the afternoons and evenings. Research reveals little evidence to justify homework for our youngest children. In fact, studies suggest that homework can damage a child’s curiosity and create a negative impression of learning.
At CDNIS we espouse the virtues of balance and encourage teachers to be purposeful in what they assign, connecting it to classroom learning and offering students choice. Children should have time at home to explore their own interests, to appreciate a musical instrument, to play sports (or just play) and understand the importance of leisure. We want them to learn how to be responsible and independent. In short, we want to support “learning” and lessen “work.”
Times 10 Rule
We do not standardize our approach to home learning at CDNIS but we do have limits to the amount of time that is allocated for each grade. We use the “Times 10 Rule”, where students do 10 minutes times their grade level. As such, Grade 5 has a maximum of 50 minutes and Grade 3 has 30 minutes. Home learning at CDNIS is also designed to support the attitudes and attributes of the Learner Profile. It is given with the very conscious goal of encouraging student agency, offering opportunities for skills development, and alleviating unnecessary pressure.
From my perspective, there is no better home learning than a family dinner in which parents and children share the excitement of the day — a moment where we see reflection, where children can be questioned and ask their own questions, and where curiosity is respected.
Check out what the students in Grade 4 do when they are involved in Home Learning. It’s purposeful, it’s connected to the learning in the classroom, it’s balanced, it offers student choice and it involves conversations with families.