Homework isn’t always graded

Teachers try to keep homework assignments reasonable.  Whether the goal is building skills, developing responsibility, or making efficient use of class time, homework helps the child grow.  Most teachers understand how busy families are, and how difficult it can be for working parents to supervise several children’s homework.

Here’s something you might not know about homework: it isn’t always graded for correctness, particularly in the primary grades (K-3).  There are several reasons for this policy, which may be dictated by the teacher, grade level, school or district.

  1. Between kindergarten and third grade, the primary purpose of homework is to build study skills and responsibility.  The emphasis is on building strong work habits, not assessing students on their homework.
  2. Many teachers feel that grades should be based on a child’s performance.  With homework, there is no guarantee that the work is entirely a child’s own.
  3. Not grading homework protects children who do not have strong support at home.   If these children can earn strong grades based on class work, homework should not harm their grades.
  4. Young children don’t understand grades.  They truly don’t realize that the work they do determines their grade.  Thus, grading homework often cannot motivate children in primary grades.
  5. Consequences such as missed recess spent making up homework are more motivating to children than a low grade.  Such consequences reinforce the idea that homework is about responsibility.

What this means for parents: If homework has become a struggle, talk to your child’s teacher.  The teacher may or may not tell you how homework is graded, but you should be able to form an idea of its level of importance.  If you find out that the homework is not graded, do not tell your child.  However, you now have a sense of when to insist that the work be completed accurately and neatly, and when simple completion will suffice.

Homework in grades 4-6:  In the intermediate grades, homework is usually unfinished class work.  It is very important that children complete this homework.  The assignments are designed to solidify new knowledge and practice new skills.  If your child does not do the work, he can expect to fall behind the rest of the class.  In the intermediate grades, homework is generally graded for correctness or completion.  Either way, zeroes and low grades will bring your child’s average down quickly.

If your child has a lot of homework: It often means that he is not working during class time.  Another possibility is that your child finds the work very difficult.  Unless your child has a learning disability, do not accept the “it’s too hard” excuse until your child has spent about a month doing homework in earnest.  Poor study habits likely are the problem.

If your child has no homework: There are two likely scenarios: either your child is so bright that he completes all work at school, or your child simply does not tell you about homework.  The completes-it-all-at-school student has straight As and spends a lot of time reading.  Most other students fall into the second scenario of hiding homework from parents.  Online grading systems like Snapgrades or a quick email to the teacher can uncover this problem.

There is a third, very unlikely scenario: the teacher never assigns homework.  If this were true, the teacher probably would have told you.  It is very unusual for intermediate level teachers not to assign homework.

I hope this helps you understand how teachers approach homework.  Remember, the goal is always to help the child learn.

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Posted in Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Feb 9, 2010


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