Friday, January 15, 2016

What's homework like at your school?

My daughter started kindergarten this past year, and I feel we've learned many things that might benefit those families with children who will begin kindergarten this fall. One is that homework varies even more than we had thought.

At our school, CIS DeAvila, there is no homework the first week of school. Starting the second week the kindergartners receive four pages of homework on Monday, so they do one page (front and back) Monday through Thursday and turn the packet in on Friday, and they also ask you to read 10-15 minutes per night with your child.

Then a
ny classwork that isn't completed gets sent home as additional homework.
Incomplete can mean a page of math problems aren't done, or that your child wrote two sentences about an event and drew a picture of it but didn't color the picture yet, or that they only accomplished 20 of 50 characters to be done in their workbook. Or they may have done all the characters but not in the right stroke order so had them all erased and are now having to redo them.

Most of the children bring home this extra work at some point and many of them bring it home most weeks. And of course some teachers are more exacting than others about what constitutes "done" work. 

This extra work is usually sent home Friday and it is not required to be turned in Monday, but if you don't, your child will have doubled up homework on some of the weekdays in the following week.

Then over winter break, the kindergartners are assigned six journal pages in English and six pages in Cantonese. These are pages where they write a narrative, informative, or opinion piece and then draw a picture and color it. The English pages are two or three sentences and the Cantonese are each a single simple sentence. They are also asked to use flashcards they've created for all of the characters they have learned and practice all of them in the correct stroke order. And then of course the usual reading.

Our school has a reputation for being academically rigorous and you can see that reflected in their homework policies.
Although 15-20 minutes is the supposed amount of time per day for homework, I'd say the reality is more like 30 minutes at a minimum, especially if your child wants to enjoy themselves a bit and take some pride in their drawing or coloring or thinking up a funny sentence. And keep in mind that you can't assert a cut off at 15 or 20 minutes if it means leaving anything incomplete, since that work would be sent back the next week and everything will get backed up. So it makes sense to be prepared for your child to do at least 30 minutes each weekday and on some weekend days also.

We have friends at many of the other schools in the city and some of their children get no homework, some get just reading that gradually includes a list of sight words, and some get a similar weekly packet. We haven't yet found anyone else who gets incomplete classwork sent home as homework, but it is a big district, and I'm sure we're not the only ones.

I know discussions of homework and whether it's valuable or not can get pretty heated, but I'd rather stick with the facts and let everyone decide for themselves (and their child) what is a fit.

Can anyone else chime in and let parents know what your school's policy is? Both weekly and over breaks? I think it's very helpful for incoming families. And all grades are of interest, not just kindergarten.

Thank you!

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