Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To give homework, or not to give homework. That is the question . . .

Homework is a touchy subject concerning catechists. Many regard it as taboo and therefore do not assign any during the year.

Parents on the other hand are divided about this controversy. In a recent survey when parents were asked what their level of expectation regarding homework/family activities from church 38.5% think students should be given homework to support the work in class. 30.8% said they would prefer to have homework once in a while. 30.8% prefer not to have any homework at all.

Additional comments from parents on this subject were:

• Some parents expressed their preference for fun and no homework.
• Some said their children already have too much going on and don’t want to be adding homework from church, specially under 4th grade.
• One parent wrote “it didn't seem to matter whether the kids do the homework or not.”
• Yet another wrote “Reading is sufficient- but I think that it should be expected, not "optional", so that those who read it can build on it rather than reading it again in class.”

So what’s a catechist to do? First, does your DRE allow teachers to give homework? Then ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with the homework. Make sure the homework is necessary and reviews what has already been gone over in class. All students in your class should be able to complete the homework assigned and in a relatively short period of time.

Assigning homework serves various educational needs. It serves as an intellectual discipline, establishes study habits, and supplements and reinforces work done in CCD. Teachers give homework because the repetition of facts and knowledge learned will have a much higher a percentage of being retained in the mind. In addition, it fosters student initiative, independence, and responsibility and brings home and CCD closer together.

So what do you do in your class?

*In my class my first grade students are given 5 prayers (Sign of the Cross, Grace Before Meals, Glory Be, Hail Mary, and Our Father) to do by the end of the school year. Each prayer the student recites out loud correctly, they will be able to pick a prize from the prize bag. We also have 4 take home tests during the year. The parents will need to help their child study, fill out the test (circle the correct answer), and return it to class.

I also make Take Home Sheets for the students to take home for their parents to go over with them and to bring back the following week. It helps reinforce what they have learned in class and lets the parents know what we are doing. They usually consist of about 10 questions that the parents read to their child. Two answers are provided and the child tells the parent which answer is best so they can circle it. I post all of my Take Home Sheets here (scroll down to Take Home Sheets).

When my students bring in their Take Home Sheets and Take Home Tests they get to play Homeworkopoly which is a fun game that encourages students to do their homework.

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