Whether you are a brand-new teacher, or a veteran, here are 5 tips to help you create a mindful homework policy.
1. The 10-Minute Homework Rule
The recommended amount of time for a child to spend on homework is 10 minutes for each grade level.NEA Reviews of the Research on Best Practices in Education, Research Trends: Why Homework Should Be Balanced
According to this guideline, a 1st grader should have no more than 10 minutes of homework each day. Similarly, a 2nd grader no more than 20 minutes, and so on.
With that in mind, ask yourself if what you currently assign falls loosely into those time amounts. If not, consider making adjustments. I know I used to send WAY too much work home. I believed I was being a good teacher by doing so, and it was humbling to learn how wrong I was.
2. Choose Quality Over Quantity!
Since we don’t want to overload our students with too much homework, look for assignments that are worth your students’ time. Avoid sending work that is just fluff, busy work, or a worksheet that has too many of the same things on it.
What’s quality homework? It’s one that reviews the curriculum you taught, preferably spiraling throughout several standards and skills.
As you know, homework should be engaging, age appropriate, and easy for parents to understand. Effective assignments should take just a short time to complete. Also, since not every child has extra supplies at home like scissors, glue, and crayons. Therefor, their work shouldn’t require them to cut, paste, or color, unless you can provide supplies for your students who need them.
Similarly, assigning nightly reading in leu of skill reviews is also an accepted practice in many schools, and is rising in popularity.
3. Be Consistent!
The time and effort you put upfront to find quality homework for the whole year will save a considerably amount of time and stress later on. Avoid “finding homework as you go” at all cost! Consistent and cohesive resources are better for your students and their parents, and definitively easier on you.
Besides, the more consistent the work you send home, the more your students will be able to work on it independently, which is always the goal.
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4. Foster Independence!
Sadly, many children do not have someone to help them at home. In some cases, language barriers prevent willing parents from helping.
To increase homework completion, choose materials that have child-friendly directions, examples of how to complete the assignments, and create a predictable routine for handing it out and turning it in.
On that note, since the conditions in which our young students do their homework is so diverse, avoid attaching grades to it in lower elementary classrooms.
5. Watch Those Copies!
Be mindful of how much paper, ink, toner, staples, and electricity the homework you select will use in the course of a year. Consider the layout and the homework content on the sheets you assign, so they’re not too taxing on the budget or on the environment!
I hope these tips are helpful to you, and that they help you choose a homework that is just right for you and your students!