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Educators and parents have long debated the importance of homework in student learning for years: how valuable is it? At what age does homework benefit a child? How do we best balance its use with the value of family time, play, and other after school priorities? Research from educational journals and data from classroom observation led us to shift our approach to homework in grades K-2 to focus on literacy and a new approach to math. Following best practices in elementary education, we ask parents to read every night with their children and to explore natural opportunities to bring concepts from school to home. Students now begin their day by completing the same assignments that have been sent as homework in the past. Our teachers find this daily in-school approach gives them richer insight into each child’s learning.
By devoting a short amount of time in the morning to tasks that used to be homework, teachers are able to enrich learning with a more child-centered approach. Instead of seeing the results of assignments alone, they are able to do a real-time assessment to get a better pulse on students’ questions about and retention of material. They get to see how students think and problem solve. Based on the information teachers gather during morning work time, they can choose whether to lead direct instruction for the whole class or split students into groups that challenge each individual student around the specific skill being taught. Teachers are finding that they have a much more immediate and direct experience of student understanding and can uncover and respond to misunderstandings as well as identify when students are ready to move on to more complex concepts.
As we have tested out our shift in philosophy around homework over the past 5 months, we have learned that some families might benefit from structures to support learning outside the classroom. In response, second grade teachers now provide optional tools, such as reading logs, for students to record what they have read at home independently. True to our reflective nature, Rashi educators continue to stay abreast of the most current research around learning during out-of-school time, test our current practices, and adapt to ensure that all students are being challenged.
Inspired to learn more? Inquire about The Rashi School.