Homework Guidelines

Pembroke Hill teachers have spent considerable time examining the available research regarding the topic of homework. We want to thank Dr. Harris Cooper of Duke University, a national homework expert, for his assistance with this project.

Teachers can structure homework in many ways, and student differences influence that decision. Students can determine when, where and how to complete their assignments. The home environment influences the process by creating an atmosphere conducive to, or inhibitive of, study. The broader community plays a role by providing other leisure activities that compete for students’ time. There are several purposes/goals of homework.

These purposes include giving students the opportunity to:

  • Study for tests;
  • Practice skills;
  • Learn time management;
  • Learn self-discipline;
  • Gain organizational skills;
  • Complete classroom work;
  • Research or expand knowledge base;
  • Read for enrichment; and
  • Go above and beyond what can be accomplished during the school day.

Time Guidelines

It is difficult to say how much homework a child will have. The time spent on homework depends on a variety of factors including a student’s processing and organizational skills, as well as use of class time. With this said, teachers should assign no more than 10 minutes X the child’s grade level for homework tasks each night. For example, a second grader should expect no more than 20 minutes of homework (10 X 2), while a fourth grader should expect no more than 40 minutes of homework (10 X 4).

Independent reading is also an essential part of learning. Students are strongly encouraged to make reading a part of their homework routine. It is important for all children to independently read at least 30 minutes per day.

Parental Involvement In Homework

Parents have a significant role to play in their child’s education. Parents’ attitudes about homework’s importance and their support in providing the time and place to complete homework assignments greatly affect a child’s success with this ongoing responsibility.

Suggestions for how to be most effective in helping your child with homework assignments are as follows:

  • Read and understand the school’s general homework policy.
  • Share any concerns you may have about the amount or type of homework assigned with your child’s teachers.
  • Provide a regular time, suitable study area and the necessary tools (for example: paper, pencils and reference books) for your child to complete homework assignments.
  • Strike a reasonable balance among after-school activities, family time, television viewing, free reading and time for homework.
  • Be available to help with an occasional question and to review completed assignments if asked.
  • Read aloud to your child through the middle school years. Select books that are above your child’s reading level or ones that will open the door to new authors, genres and series. (One of the school’s highest priorities is to create lifelong readers and reading aloud to your child is key to this process.)
  • Praise your child’s efforts.
  • Inform teachers in advance of coming vacations or other necessary absences from school.
  • Collect make-up work for a child who is sick or absent from school.
  • Remember: It’s your child’s homework, not yours! Direct parental involvement in specific assignments should be kept to a minimum.

Picking Up Homework

If a student is ill and you would like to pick up homework for the day, email or leave a voicemail with the homeroom teacher before 10 a.m. Homework may then be picked up in the office.

Student Role

The ultimate responsibility for homework lies with the student. Students should write down homework assignments, make sure they understand expectations, take home the necessary materials to complete their homework and return homework to school.

The student is responsible for "make-up" work: that work that could or should have been finished during the school day, or work that was assigned while the student was ill or on vacation.

While completing homework, students are expected to organize assignments, including reading and studying for tests, and self-regulate the completion of all homework, whether it is written or not. Students are also expected to produce quality work -- work that demonstrates understanding of the assignment and is legible, complete, neat, accurate and aesthetic.

Teacher Role

The teacher assumes certain responsibilities to ensure that students transfer knowledge and skills learned in school to solving problems outside of school. The teacher should:

  • Remind students of the characteristics of quality work.
  • State expectations clearly and outline procedures to be followed to ensure successful completion of each assignment.
  • Help students learn to use their planners to become more organized, independent and proficient.
  • Individualize assignments for some students when necessary.
  • Communicate with resource teachers to avoid overlap of tests or major projects.
  • Assign homework that is meaningful and purposeful.

In conclusion, it is important to note that homework assignments are influenced by more factors than any other educational strategy. Therefore, it is not surprising that homework can be a source of friction between home and school. These homework guidelines clarify the expectations of the lower school. By keeping communication open between school and home and working together, homework becomes a meaningful part of the curriculum.