Homework Grading (for students)
Most homework assignments are graded on a credit/no credit basis. Credit is assigned if you: (1) complete the assignment, (2) turn it in on time, and (3) have marked the assignment with your full name, first and last, and your student number. If those three criteria are not met, then no credit is marked in the grade book.
Some homework assignments, such as spelling, are graded. Your spelling homework makes up the majority of your spelling grade. I correct some grammar homework assignments to give you feedback on how well you did that assignment. I will tell you if that assignment will be recorded in the grade book; most are not.
The Purpose of Homework (for parents)
The purpose of most homework assignments is for students to practice what they are learning. Some homework assignments are preparation for the next day’s lesson, such as reading in their history textbook.
How Much Time?
The district’s policy as stated in the Parent/Guardian and Student Handbook is 30 minutes per night for fifth grade. A general rule of thumb that many teachers follow is 10 minutes per grade level, so fifty minutes a night for fifth grade students. Students in my class should be doing at least 30 minutes of homework every night, Monday through Friday. They should not be doing much more than 50 to 60 minutes of homework in a night.
Some students will finish a homework assignment in a matter of just a few minutes. If a student completes their assigned homework in fifteen minutes, for example, then they should spend the remainder of their homework time studying. What do I mean by studying? They could read or re-read the story we're working on or a chapter in their history textbook. They could review a graded test to identify what their individual strengths and weaknesses are; then they can study the material with which they might be having difficulty. They could review a corrected assignment, such as a grammar worksheet, so that they can prepare for an upcoming test. Fifth grade students need to move beyond just completing the homework that their teacher has assigned them and actually begin to study the material that they are learning.
On the other hand, if your child is spending more than an hour of dedicated time on homework, then you should contact me and let me know what’s happening. By dedicated time, I mean actual time spent working on the assignment or studying. Do not consider time where the child is arguing/complaining about the homework, shuffling papers, going to the bathroom, eating a snack, talking on the phone, or otherwise procrastinating and wasting time. Completing homework should not become an overwhelming task that actually interferes with learning or which disrupts family time.
I frequently recommend that students work for about 20 to 25 minutes, take a short break of about five minutes, and then work for another 20 to 25 minutes. A short break could be going to the bathroom, getting a drink of water, stretching, or walking around for a bit.
Expect that your child will have some homework every school day, Monday through Friday. Some days there will be more and some days there will be less, but expect homework every night. On rare occasions, such as all day field trips, there may not be homework. Check your child's planner and/or the homework log on my classroom website if you want to verify whether or not there is homework and what was assigned.
Expect reading and mathematics homework four or five times a week. Spelling homework is typically assigned at the beginning of the week. Grammar homework will be assigned two or three times a week. History homework will often be three days a week, and science homework is usually assigned once or twice a week.
Students should not do homework immediately after school. They should have at least some time to play, have a snack, etc. before they begin their homework. Also, students should not do their homework too close to their bedtime. Find a time that works for you and your child, perhaps before dinner or just after. Set aside a consistent time that is recognized by you, your child, and siblings as homework time. During that designated time homework is the priority.
If students are doing homework at home, please provide them with a quiet place where they can complete their homework without interruptions. A table or desk where they can spread out their books and worksheets is sufficient. Minimize or remove distractions like a television or telephone. Try to keep younger siblings occupied in another room. Make sure students have easy access to any supplies, like pencils, paper, erasers, etc. to complete their homework so they can stay focused on the task at hand.
To successfully complete homework, students must pay attention during in-class instruction. They should write down any notes or examples that I write on the board. They should ask questions if they are unsure about the information or skill being taught, or if they are unsure about the directions for the homework assignment. They are always free to ask clarification questions to check their understanding with me.
They must write down the homework assignment in their planner and put any worksheets they need into their homework folder. At the end of the day, they should put their homework folder and any other materials they may need, such as a textbook or notebook, to complete their homework into their backpack.
Then students should independently complete the homework assignment, put the finished work back into their homework folder, and put all school materials, i.e., textbooks, notebooks, planner, in their backpack to return to school.
At school, students need to follow the directions on the board as to whether they turn the homework in or leave it on their desk for me to check for completion.
Parents should help their children by providing a consistent time and place for them to complete their homework with all the necessary materials they might need. Parents should also do their best to provide a quiet and non-distracting environment in which to do homework.
Parents should facilitate their children doing their homework. Parents should not do their child’s homework for them, nor should they teach their children. Parents, of course, are a child’s first teacher, and I’m not saying you should never teach your child something, but I am saying that your child is responsible for his or her homework. They should have been attentive in class during instructional time. If they cannot complete the homework, it may be due to a problem of inattention rather than misunderstanding. If you help them complete the homework when they were being inattentive, then the problem of their inattention is not being properly addressed. Students will not fail due to incomplete homework. I am constantly looking at homework to assess how they are doing. If you help them too much, then I am not getting an accurate picture of what they can and cannot do.
If your child is doing homework at an after-school program or while you're at work, you can still help to facilitate their good homework habits. Ask to see their completed homework and ask to see their planner. Your child should be able to show you the actual completed assignment as well as show you that he or she wrote down the homework assignment in his or her planner. I know you may be very tired at the end of the day, but please do not just ask them if they did their homework and accept an answer from them; they're likely to say "yes" even if they haven't finished their homework. Always ask to see their completed homework and make sure they put it back in their homework folder so that they can turn it in on time.
How do I facilitate my child doing his or her homework?
Be present. You might sit at the table with them as they are doing their homework. This might be a time for you to read quietly while they’re working. If they need your help, they can ask for it and you can quickly assist them and then go back to your reading.
Ask them questions. Ask them if took any notes while I was teaching. If they answer no, the problem may be that. If they took notes, ask them to show them to you, and guide them to use the notes and examples they copied down from the board to help them with the homework. Ask them if I wrote any notes on the board. Can they remember what I wrote? Ask them if they asked any questions during the lesson or the review of the homework assignment.