Our Philosophy Towards Homework

  • February 17, 2020 | Pam van Gass: Deputy Head Academics

At St Peter’s we believe that homework should be relevant and supportive of the learning process.

The following points may help parents to better understand our philosophy towards homework in the Girls Senior Prep:

  • The importance of re-teaching and discussion

Every afternoon, girls are asked to re-teach or revise what they have learnt on a particular day. We encourage them to teach their teddies, practise the spelling words taught in class by clapping out syllables, decode spelling words or redo a previous challenging Maths problem. Girls are also encouraged to share or explain, to their parents, what they have learnt that day. Explaining and re-teaching both establish vital neural pathways.

  • Reading

Every girl is expected to read and/or be read to for at least 20 minutes every day. This should ideally include weekends and holidays. This is the key to academic success! Leigh van Rooyen is available in our new library to assist girls to choose reading books of the correct Lexile level and relevant interest level. Please encourage your daughters to speak to her.

  • Balance

Girls are frequently over-extended and do not have sufficient down time or play time. Balance is key and helps them learn to navigate the busyness of the world. Recent studies are even showing that girls need to be taught how to relax. Rest and sleep are paramount to learning. Completing homework late into the night doesn’t bode well for optimal learning experiences the following morning. 

  • Flipped Classroom

There may be occasions when teachers use the ‘flipped’ classroom approach. This may require your daughter to read a passage, watch a video or complete an activity that will be discussed or debated in her next lesson. This is more common in Grade 6 and 7 and delivers wonderful preparation for High School.

  •  Avoid the temptation to teach

Beware that your temptation to teach a particular concept risks confusing your daughter, particularly in terms of Mathematics. Our well-researched and proven method empowers and encourages the girls to find their own understanding and methods rather than simply providing them with a certain algorithm.

  • Formative and Summative assessments

Formative assessments are in place to assess ongoing teaching and learning. These comprise of regular spelling tests and Maths tests. Some may require preparation, others may not. They provide extremely valuable feedback for the teacher, not only in terms of whether or not your daughter understands a concept, but also in terms of how well it was taught. Summative assessments are the slightly bigger assessments of a particular section of work. Girls are taught comprehensive study skills techniques every year in relation to type and amount of work that will be tested. This becomes more formalised in Grade 6 and 7.

  • What to expect 

Homework may involve reading, spelling practice, editing of written work, manipulation of numbers (tables, bonds etc.), learning vocabulary and occasionally to finish work not completed in class. However, if finishing classwork at home becomes a regular experience, please speak to your daughter’s teacher.

  • What not to expect

Meaningless worksheets, meaningless colouring in (unless they want to) and work for the sake of work rather than work being relevant and supportive of the learning process.

  • Clever use of time

So much homework can be completed in the car, sitting in traffic. Parents are encouraged to play mathematical number plate games such as adding or multiplying the numbers of the number plate in front of you. Ask them what they found difficult at school that day, ask them their opinion about something you notice outside or give them the time to read. Time can also be used before and after outside activities.

Many of the Units of Inquiry studied, revolve around topical issues. The Grade 6 girls, at present, are studying Climate Change and the Grade 7 girls, the Refugee Crisis. Why not chat about current affairs to develop general knowledge?  News articles could even be discussed.

Please talk to the class teachers or me should you require any additional information or advice around homework. Feedback from our high schools suggests that our girls are particularly well prepared and equipped with strategies and thinking approaches which promote independent learning.

We continue to advocate: Read! Read! Read!