School-wide homework policy statement
The staff at Cascade View Elementary has adopted a school-wide policy and stance on homework as it has been traditionally viewed and experienced. At Cascade View, our teachers DO NOT assign homework in the traditional sense. Your child will not be bringing home worksheets, assignments, uncompleted work, or any other classroom-based curriculum that falls outside of our sphere of influence as teachers.
Homework expectations have changed drastically in the past few years. The days of practicing math problems over and over and reading a story and answering questions at the end of the chapter are behind us. Current research has guided the decisions we make regarding homework expectations for Cascade View students. Our expectations when and if a child is to “do” school work at home will be founded upon the following:
- Purpose: Supporting the instructional program at Cascade View and a child’s overall growth and development shall guide all decisions about school activity away from the classroom. Reading at home, becoming a more efficient mathematician, and practicing spelling and/or vocabulary at home are all great ways to support the work of learning we do here.
- Efficient practice: Spending LOADS of time on homework is not best practice. Daily homework practicing spelling, math facts, and reading their chosen book(s) at their independent reading level consistently are the best things you can do to support your child as a learner at home. See the additional list of activities in our supporting information section.
- Creating competence: We all want to see our students build on their successes. Students should be working on things at their level and not feeling overwhelmed. It is important to share what you observe at home with your child’s teacher. Communication is the key! In the rare instances in which school work is assigned to be completed at home, the child should NOT need any adult support at home to complete it.
- Develop the whole child using mindful, holistic, brain-based experiences: See the additional list of activities and experiences that are proving to be essential for the healthy development of our young learners.
Background and Supporting Information
Cascade View Elementary has implemented a school-wide policy on the use of homework as part of the education program. This policy takes into account the latest research in child development and best instructional practices and also honors both school and home as the “places of work, play, enrichment, respite, and family/community” that provide a rich and appropriate array of experiences within the developing lives of our kids.
Our policy recognizes that at the elementary level, the latest in educational research shows homework has no effect upon a child’s academic progress—the effect is actually the same as if a child were to naturally develop without homework as part of their formal school program. Additionally, whenever a child is doing work assigned by the teacher outside of that teacher’s sphere of influence, the integrity of the work is jeopardized since the teacher cannot directly support that learning should the child experience difficulty. Furthermore, the varied ways that parents/siblings may or may not “help” the child with their homework also compromises a teacher’s ability to truly know what the child knows or did independent of support—which is the truest measure of a child’s knowledge. Finally, each child and family is unique in how homework is valued and supported at home—the inequity in the experience makes it tremendously difficult and inefficient to account for learning among all the students when a teacher cannot be certain of how, or even if, the child had dedicated time at home to attend to it.
Cascade View teachers do not assign formal and/or traditional homework. This is in no way meant to imply that the rigor of our educational program is in any way diminished. In fact, research from the neurosciences and our own experiences as educators is proving this is a more developmentally appropriate, whole-child centered approach to education. Academic learning is best supported and enhanced in a classroom setting under a trained educator’s direct supervision where that learning can be observed, guided, and discusses.
Experiences at home that can appropriately support a child’s overall development include the following:
- Read daily from books! Students are highly encouraged to read upwards of 30 minutes every day outside of school on texts that are at their independent reading level (if you have a question about your child’s independent level, contact your child’s teacher).
- Parents should engaged in a conversation about what the child is reading. Ask questions like: “Who are the characters?” “What is the story’s plot or problem?” “When and where does the story take place?” “Why are you reading this story?” “What do you like best about it?” “What do you think will happen next?” “Can you connect any part of the story to your own life?”
- Make sure your children see you read—and talk to them about what you are reading too!
- Encourage your child to PLAY! Preferably outside and with friends—our children learn so much about friendship, fairness, collaboration, turn-taking, and conflict resolution when they engage in play with others. PLAY grows healthy brains!
- Play board games with your children.
- Limit the amount of screen time—any screen time!
- Have fun practicing basic math facts.
- Have informal spelling bee competitions with all members of the family.
- Play “I spy” and describe the environment using rich and vivid language.
- Talk with your children—a lot! Research clearly indicates a strong correlation between a child’s exposure to language and vocabulary and their overall potential as learners. The more words our kids are exposed to early in life, the better chance they have at being successful students.
- Get your children out into nature. The brain sciences are proving the benefits of longer term exposure to the natural world on developing brains.
- Share experiences—go to museums, restaurants (and make sure THEY order their own food!), festivals, theater, movies, etc. And talk about those experiences with them.
- Have your child practice mindfulness, deep breathing, and getting comfortable with silence. The brain needs times like these to reorganize, reset, and rejuvenate vital areas of itself.
- Listen to music—all kinds.
- Play/practice a musical instrument.
- Have them create artistic “masterpieces” using all kind of media, material, and supplies. And display them with pride.
- Exercise—which can be in the form of play. In fact, the more fun exercise is, the more apt children are to be motivated to do it.
- Join a team—any team, whether athletic, gym-oriented, club oriented (YMCA, chess, Boys and Girls, etc.)
- Write letters to family.
- Create and write in a shared family journal—the more a student writes, the better writer they become. You do not, and should not, correct their writing when they do this! Just get them to write…a lot!
- Have them write grocery lists—and poetry, and stories, and songs, etc.
- Have them practice using real money in real-life situations. Teach them about bank and savings accounts. Give them an allowance and teach them to save.
- Give them chores and hold them accountable to doing them.
- Any other creative and fun experience that grows a sense of love, fun, relationship, and exposure to the world that you can think of!
Any work that a teacher MIGHT assign to be completed at home will ONLY be the kind that the child can do completely independently and will most likely be the result of something that occurred in the classroom that necessitated additional time outside of the classroom setting. This should not happen often however. The “work” of learning remains our responsibility at school. When the child is at home with you, enrich their lives by engaging them in fun, interesting, creative, natural, and positive experiences. Experiences that grow their bodies, minds, and relationships in developmentally appropriate ways!
Our WHY as educators at Cascade View Elementary
In our school community, we are passionate about meeting learners where they are in order to help them realize their innate and extraordinary human potential.