The Options Department of Bell School believes homework is an integral element of a child’s educational program. In addition to teaching responsibility, building independence and offering enrichment opportunities, it helps children develop positive study skills and habits that will serve them throughout their lives. At the beginning of the school year, your child’s teacher will send home grade-specific information about homework requirements.
Beginning in first grade, students in the Options department are provided assignment notebooks and taught how to use them to keep track of assignments. In first through third grades, parents are encouraged to check the planners for completion and accuracy. Teachers will provide information about homework via newsletters, handouts, and/or classroom websites. However, by the time students are in fourth grade, they are expected to keep track of assignments and due dates by themselves.
Primary level students in the Options Department are expected to spend between thirty and forty-five minutes daily on homework. Intermediate level students are expected to spend between forty-five and ninety minutes daily on homework. Upper level students are expected to spend between ninety minutes and two hours daily on homework. Teachers of all grades assign little or no homework on the weekends to provide maximum opportunity and time for long-term projects and family activities.
Homework in the primary grades often consists of reinforcement of class work and extension of class activities. As a result, there are frequent short-term daily homework assignments. However, long-term projects are part of every grade level in the Options department. As students move from the primary to intermediate to upper grades, there are fewer day-to-day assignments and more long-term assignments. However, students are expected to read independently every day at every grade level.
Student success in school is often a reflection of the support and assistance parents offer with homework. Parents of younger students are encouraged to listen to reading, dictate spelling words, ask for definitions, assist in research and problem solving, encourage, direct, and practice, but never just provide answers. These tasks do require parental time and effort. It is well worth it, however, in order to keep in touch with what your child is learning at school.
If parents of younger students have questions about an assignment, they may email, call, or write their child’s teachers. However, in an effort to foster independence, even students in first through third grade should be encouraged to ask their teachers for help themselves. By the time students are in fourth grade, they are expected to contact the teacher themselves if they have questions about classwork or homework assignments.
The following are suggested methods for parental involvement in homework:
- See that books and learning materials come home regularly. Look at what your child brings home.
- Provide an appropriate atmosphere for doing homework, free of distractions and with adequate light.
- Develop regular routines for homework such as checking the assignment book with your child and setting a consistent homework time each day.
- Look at written homework. Does it look as if thought and effort went into it? Is it neat and accurate? If you were the teacher, would you accept the paper? If not, it should be redone.
- Ask your child to show you what she/he is learning in class. Ask your child to explain the concepts to you. If your child cannot explain to your satisfaction, then she/he needs to study that subject again and perhaps ask a question in class the next day.