Open Discussion – Homework Policy 2017

From the Principal

Over the course of the last several months, our Instructional Leadership Team has been hard at work studying the issue of homework and crafting a policy that can make our approach to homework clear and consistently applied in every classroom. The issue of homework has received a lot of attention recently, and we started this process by doing a thorough review of the literature and research about different elementary homework practices. After reading parent comments on the Parent Conference Survey in November and aligning our current practice at different grade levels at Genesee Hill with what we read in the research, we were then able to identify the core values we wanted to craft a policy around. Our next step was to consider a number of sample policies from schools around the country so that we could think through what was practical and what the implications of our decisions at the building level would be.

The Seattle School Board requires that every school draft its own homework policy, and we have changed dramatically as a school since the simple idea of “ten minutes per grade level” was first introduced in the Eighties. We now have a strong policy draft that we are eager to introduce to families for additional comment. With your help, we will be able to ensure that the policy we approve for the next school year is one that will help build our home-school connection and will provide a coherent philosophy and expectation to support children in every classroom.

We invite you to share your comments. This is a trial run of a way to garner community input on an idea with transparent civic discourse. Our idea is that sometimes questions and concerns expressed on surveys can feel like they go into a black hole. We will commit to reviewing and getting all comments posted within 24 hours. Please take time to read the other comments posted, and I will endeavor to clarify and answer questions as needed.

The draft of the 2017 Homework Policy can be reviewed here.

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7 Comments

  1. Gerrit, Having less homework this year has been an incredible relief for our family. I was really on board with homework when we started in school but by last year I found it so frustrating that homework was literally running our family. We have really backed off and it’s been so good for everyone. I literally choked back tears reading this policy. For struggling learners and families with multiple kids, this is a huge relief and I believe providing the extra opportunities for other kids is also a great service to the families. I like the proposed reading, math facts, and sight words approach. I would suggest adding typing in for 4th and 5th graders and provide resources to help families build their children’s’ typing skills. 5-10 minutes of typing most days are enough to make some real progress and they will really need that skill in middle school. Thank you all for being so committed to our children’s learning and quality of life!

  2. I think that is a great policy and approach. Thank you! (Also agree with others on the typing practice.)

  3. Thanks for these first two great responses. We know that there’s no one-size-fits-all policy that will work for all kids, but I’m hopeful that we are on track with an approach that is developmentally appropriate across the six years that we serve in elementary school. The typing suggestion from somebody who has seen the need in middle school is very useful;) We appreciate your input!

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with Pam Linxweiler’s statement and appreciate that Genesee Hill is being really thoughtful about your homework policy. I love the statement about how reading strengthens a family. Homework can be very burdensome for families when both parents work, many times until 6 or 6:30pm and then family time becomes homework time. Family and grounded social connections are very important for a student’s social/emotional growth which is extremely important to a child’s ability to learn and grow throughout their life. I agree with your homework policy and am proud to be a part of the Genesee community.

  5. I agree with Pam above. This year has been so much less stress on our family. We are two parents who work full time outside of the home we are not feeling the stress and pressure each night to do a “homework packet” that really doesn’t help improve our daughter’s knowledge/abilities. I am a teacher in a neighboring district (that has not revised their homework plan) and I really appreciate that GHE has started researching and recommending these types of changes. This proposed homework policy looks great! Thank you to the people who put in the work to create it.

  6. Thank you for that article GK. Loved it! It brought me to realization that as a family in a household with 2 working parents and a child with learning difficulties, we will always consider a homework policy not a requirement but instead a guideline. Staying engaged with simple email communication with our son’s teachers points us where he needs our help. Most of the home practice is done online via Typing Agent, MyOn, ReflexMath and Greg Tang Math along with 30 minutes of reading. I really appreciate your open engagement of our families and feel well supported as a parent in our school community!

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