Generally speaking, homework refers to academic work. However, we Montessori educators like to broaden the term: all work that is done at home is homework. It falls into categories, for adults and children alike. It can be the work we do for ourselves, to improve ourselves, to pursue our own interests and dreams. This work could be an extension of work done on the job or at school, or it could be an unrelated activity or hobby that is meaningful to us individually. It could be the work we do to contribute to family life, like cooking or cleaning. The line between work and play can become blurred here, just as work the children do at school is often fun.
Over time, the Elementary department’s approach to traditional homework has shifted to align with research-based best practice. These guidelines are designed to give teachers and parents the flexibility to meet the needs of individual students and to honor the values of Post Oak families regarding time spent outside of school.
- Children need time outside of school to pursue interests, engage in meaningful work, and participate in family life.
- For elementary children, homework will not be assigned.
- There may be times when teachers ask children to take work home to complete if extra time is needed.
- Children may choose to work on school work at home because they find it enjoyable.
- Teachers are glad to offer suggestions if a parent would like their child to practice some school work at home.
- A love of reading is the single best indicator of and influence on academic success. Reading and being read to daily are thus very important homework for elementary children; consider these activities as standing homework.
How do you know what your family’s values are in terms of homework? We recommend that you have a family discussion in which you complete the following sentence:
In our family, we believe that…
Here are two reasonable ways to complete the sentence:
- In our family, we believe that each day, school-age kids should spend some time outside of school practicing things learned at school.
- In our family, we believe that time outside of school is best spent pursuing our personal interests and participating in family life.
We encourage you to come up with a value statement about homework that best fits your family. Discuss this with members of the family and use it to make decisions about the use of time outside of school. Regardless of the value statement you choose, we are glad to offer ideas and suggestions for activities that students can do at home. Teachers are also glad to offer suggestions for additional academic practice that parents may choose to offer their child. We are here to help.
The Middle School is an environment where young people develop independence in many areas. At the Middle School level, the students will continue their discussion of great literature by gathering in seminars. The teachers will assign a certain amount of reading, and the students are expected to complete the reading and come to the seminar discussions with interpretive and evaluative questions prompting discussion.
Students receive assignments that may extend over two weeks at a time or longer. The teachers work with each student to develop organizational and time-management skills. Middle School represents a major transition between elementary classes and high school. Parents can support their middle school-aged children by providing a family schedule that allows time and space each evening for work that has not been completed in the Middle School environment.
Our intent is to have open, transparent communication and access to assessment. Students will deliver weekly emails outlining progress and upcoming assignments in the classroom. The director will routinely communicate with parents and students regarding information on the calendar and upcoming events.
Students will typically have preparatory and follow-up for each hour of academic class time. Whether they complete the majority of this work during the school day or at home will depend on how the student’s personal schedule is weighted with respect to internships, sports, clubs, and a wide variety of pursuits and vocations that may serve as developmentally appropriate work for students of this age.
The work is generally a significant amount of reading to prepare for seminars, creative writing, analytical writing, mathematics practice and investigations, and preparation for upcoming assessments and presentations. Students are expected to complete and submit all work before it is due to ensure they are prepared for class activities, such as seminars or field work.
The work that students do is highly contextualized and relates to both the course topics and their individual interests as they progress through the year. It is intended to embody challenges that are developmentally appropriate and that spur each student’s personal growth and sense of capability.
Success with the work depends on solid priority-management skills and personal organization. Students are also building their skills around seeking appropriate help as needed. That may mean finding time to meet with a teacher or advisor, or asking a parent for support at home.
Parents play an important role during the middle and high school years in helping students move from “being managed” to managing themselves. Students must be able to see a path to their own independence. Parents support the movement along that path by moving from a “management” role to an “advisor” role during the middle and high school years. At times, students need support to ensure they are working effectively and efficiently. This is the time for students to establish habits that will serve them well when they are independent adults. Family meetings early in the year can set the expectation agreement for when, where, and how work at home will be completed. Advisors are available to work with students to support them at school to establish successful patterns of work completion.