Although homework is a much-debated issue, purposeful homework with just the right degree of challenge can be a powerful learning tool. In the Senior School, homework is designed to reinforce or extend the girls’ learning of the day. When new skills are practised they become routine and this builds students’ confidence.
Quality over quantity is definitely true for homework. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time does not necessarily improve student outcomes. Our expectations regarding homework are clearly stated in the front of the Student Planner. Students in Years 7 and 8 can expect fifteen to twenty minutes per subject per day and this increases to twenty to twenty-five minutes in Years 9 and 10. Students in Years 11 and 12 can expect up to three hours of homework per night. Homework is introduced slowly in Year 7 to give students time to adjust to new routines.
Just as students have different needs in the classroom, they also have different needs with homework. A one size fits all approach does not work. Our teachers will often pose open-ended questions which invite students to respond at their level of understanding. Students may be asked to work on a particular activity for fifteen minutes, meaning that some students will produce more than others. Teachers may also give students the choice of tasks at different levels of difficulty. Research has shown that students gravitate to the tasks that best suit their skill level and expertise. This approach has also been shown to improve student motivation and engagement.
Throughout a student’s time at Meriden, there will be many different homework tasks. The intention is always to reinforce learning and, if parents observe that their daughter is too tired to be productive, a quick note in the Student Planner to inform her teacher is all that is required.