Monday, September 25, 2006

Homework Survey Feedback

smart ugh wow challenging easy sometimes hard get it in on time! medium neat handwriting effort thinking dumb great

These are words your children used to describe homework from the homework survey that was sent home last week. For our range of learners, there are ranges of responses! Some students have a positive attitude towards homework, some negative, and others, indifferent.

Have a “grown up” conversation about how homework is going for your 4th grader. Take the time to firm up the following so that you can help your child get into an INDEPENDENT homework routine:

*Does he/she have a quiet place to do homework, with easy access to supplies (writing utensils, paper, ruler, dictionary, etc.)
*How long do they usually take to complete their homework? Is it a reasonable amount of time? If not, WHY?
*What could you both do to make homework go smoother? Make a list and write it out if you need to!

About Homework:
4th grade is an important year for children to become more independent students. One way the 4th grade teachers are working with students to practice and learn independence is through homework. Your children are in a time of transition with homework, moving away from receiving a packet that they complete over a week, and moving towards working on weekly assignments that they turn in once a week, and nightly assignments that they need to turn in the following school day.

I purposefully create certain assignments, which are open-ended, allowing for every student to demonstrate what their best effort looks like, even though it might not look the same as another students. Please emphasize that no matter what academic level your child is performing at, his/her best effort is expected on every assignment, whether it is a one-page homework assignment or a 3-page research project! My “Best Effort Expectations” have been made very clear in class, and include:

o Evidence of time management (doesn’t look rushed – you can tell that a reasonable amount of time was put into it)
o Legible handwriting
o Correct spelling of any words you have access to (title, author, word wall words)
o Correct punctuation
o Treat materials (notebooks, paper, etc...) properly and TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR WORK!

One hour to an hour and a half is what we deem to be a reasonable amount of time for 9 – 10 year olds in 4th grade to spend on school homework.

When you factor in after school activities, parent schedules, dinner, and hopefully the occasional shower or bath (!), we feel that one hour, give or take a bit, will help your child develop the strong study, organization, and time management skills they need to succeed as they progress through school, while allowing for time to play and just be a kid! Three hours of homework in 4th grade seems absurd – that might be the case in high school, but certainly not now! If students ever get stuck on a problem or assignment, and have put in their best effort, they know to circle the problem and move on, and to be sure to bring it in the following day to go over with me. We don’t want students doing that on tests, so let’s help them develop the habit of “moving on and coming back to it.”

We'll be talking about time management A LOT in class this week, and I've broken down some approximate times allotted for each subject area each night. Every kid is different and has different needs -- this is just a basic guide for what we feel is reasonable, taking into account after school activities, etc. The hour (give or take) can be broken up in whatever way works best for your family/4th grader.

Reading: 20 min./night, 7x/week

Writing: 10 min./night, 4 – 5x/week

Math: 10 – 15 min./night, 4-5x/week

Social Studies: 10 min./night as assigned

Words of the Week: 5 min./night, 4x/week

Business: 2-3 minutes as needed.
*PLEASE review and sign papers that need to be returned by the deadlines.

*Start off the homework routine by checking in with your child to find out exactly what their homework is. They record their homework in a black & white composition book each day in class. If needed, ask them what a reasonable amount of time is to complete each task, and have them jot it down. For students who need extra time management support, break the assignments down into one thing at a time, and check in with them after 20 minutes of reading, and remind them to take 5 minutes to complete their reading log. Setting a timer is another way to foster independence.

*There’s nothing wrong with taking breaks! If a solid hour feels overwhelming to your child, then help them make a plan to work for 15 minutes on math, take a dinner break, and

*Incorporate some homework into transitional times, like going to school. This is a great time to check in with your child’s automaticity of math facts or Words of the Week. Turn it into a game!

*Talk with other families and ask how the homework routine works in their home. Share ideas!

*If your child is breezing through homework assignments, encourage him/her to go above and beyond.
Suggest they take it to a higher level, which demonstrates a deep understanding of the assignment and above and beyond effort.

*If your child struggles with handwriting, let homework be a place that they concentrate on improving legibility. Homework that is handed in illegibly will not be graded or posted.

Making a promising homework plan with your child will be the foundation of your child’s homework routine for the rest of the year, lets hope for a successful year of homework for your child!


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