Families of even young students have been reporting increased stress and anxiety around homework. It’s heartbreaking for educators to hear family time is replaced with homework battles to the point the parent-child relationship is suffering.
Does this sound like your family?
- Increased frustrations with homework
- Hours of homework for your elementary school child
- Worksheets to do at home that the child can’t explain how to do
- Not understanding the homework expectations to help your child
- Homework that seems too easy or without purpose
Eric Garber, Principal at New Pacific School, shares a refreshing, alternative approach to homework. New Pacific School focuses on creating intrinsic motivation to learn. They utilize a learning process centered around the students, empowering them with voice, choice, and engaging problems. He believes it’s the responsibility of educators to teach children how to ask and answer their own good questions. Shouldn’t home learning (or “homework”) also extend these opportunities?
Principal Garber said that homework at New Pacific School does not repeat the days’ learning. Research is clear: if the child understands the concept and is successful in class, a repetitive set of problems that night hurts motivation. If the child doesn’t yet understand the concept, sending a problem sheet home reinforces the students’ errors and misconceptions. (Alfie Kohn’s book, The Homework Myth, 2006, reveals the research behind these findings.)
Homework at New Pacific School is handled in a family-friendly and developmentally appropriate way, focusing on empowering children and families to grow where the child needs and wants to grow. Home learning is an extension of a child’s engagement in the classroom. Garber hopes that children go home wanting to share their knowledge and their challenges – and strategies for overcoming those challenges.
With New Pacific School, learning, regardless of the location, is authentic and meaningful.
Having an authentic audience for a presentation is one way this is accomplished. It can be as simple as a child explaining a problem or process to their family. A deeper level might occur when a child teaches their parent how to do an authentic protocol for critiquing the child’s writing instead of the parent just correcting spelling and grammar. Another example is when a student prepares to present at school and occasionally includes an appropriate guest community member.
Home learning with New Pacific School may also include an extension of the student’s project-based learning. Students may take a prototype home to test and revise in preparation for collaboration with their group. As scientists, they may continue to work on their digital findings presentations to ensure they reflect their process. As mathematicians, they may take home a difficult problem to challenge their families to find new solutions. Or, they may work on revising and communicating their work to defend their answer to other student mathematicians effectively. These are examples of how students build confidence and clarity in their process and awareness of what they are learning.
At New Pacific School, personalization based on the child’s unique needs is the main focus. Each student has a personalized learning path designed with the collaboration of parents, teachers, and student. In some cases, home learning may include personalized learning options on a computer to support building mastery of a child’s unique needs. These tools aren’t assignments required for a night’s turn-around. New Pacific School realizes the mastery of a concept doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, they give families support and options (when family time allows) to work on the child’s unique needs.
Homework at New Pacific School is an extension of the work done in the classroom: engaging, authentic, collaborative, meaningful, and personalized. Together, students, teachers, and parents can develop and support lifelong learning habits.
If this sounds like a way to get relief from homework headaches, checking out NewPacificSchool.org will be worth your time. You can talk to a real person on the phone, join a Zoom meeting, or meet Principal Garber on a scheduled tour at the Roseville campus. Learn more at NewPacificSchool.org