While reading the previous post by Samantha, I was thinking about my own students, the homework they do, and the requests or concerns from the parents regarding homework. In my Grade 1 and 2 classroom, there is a definite connection between homework and parent communication.
At the beginning of the school year, there was no assigned homework. However, unfinished work would often be sent home with the students for completion. One student in particular welcomed this opportunity, as she said her parents wanted her to have something to work on while her older sister was doing homework. Other students were rushing to complete their work so they didn’t have to take it home. This resulted in a large gap in completion time from the “rushers” and the “procrastinators.” Since it is usually the same groups of students, I have since been encouraging the rushers to go back and take a little more time, while encouraging the procrastinators to use their time efficiently and giving time for completion at the end of the day. All of this echoes Samantha’s comment about “the importance of differentiation in the classroom.” Not all students will need the same skill practice or review. Some just need more time, and others may need more support or practice.
I communicate to parents using our classroom website, emails, and the agendas – depending on the type of message I am sending. Every week when I write a journal entry on the website, I let the parents know what we are currently working on in class, for example addition and subtraction. I then provide an idea or resource for homework that the parents can use at their convenience, such as a link to an on-line math game or a game of concentration with sight words. For many of the parents it gives them concrete ideas for supporting their children in fun or interactive ways, without the pressure of completing a paper and pencil task while making dinner. I also review the children’s work during the day or when conferencing with them, and make a list of the students who may require more skill practice at home. By recording a particular task in their agenda, the parents are aware that this is specific to their child’s needs. Communication with the parents has provided a consistent extension of support from school to home. It has also helped when a student is distracted or having difficulty, and the parents are able to communicate what might be going on at home as an explanation. To be purposeful and effective, homework should be differentiated to the student or group of learners. At a Grade 1 and 2 level, good parent communication will support the learning at home.