Michael J. Allen

Class of 2016 - 2017

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Parent Guide to Homework

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I think that grade five homework, like that of grade six and beyond, can be an area of stress for many students.

Efficient time management, organization, self motivation, independent responsibility, perseverance; all are important background skills and inclinations that can be developed through homework.

I try to provide a series of homework projects that are designed to exercise language and math skills, as well as provide creative arts and research opportunities.

Each project usually comprises four or five 'jobs'. Each job will be an individual assignment. Two or three of these assignments are writing assignments, one is usually an art or multimedia job. Sometimes there are music or presentation preparation assignments, using programs such as Power-Point.

The questions addressed in a project are linked, to provide a cohesive end-result for the student. For example, one project for science might involve designing a travel brochure for a student-selected planet. Combining research with creative presentation, the students try to persuade the class to visit their planet first - through music and drama, as well as persuasive speeches and visual effects.

I try to keep the content of projects varied and worthwhile, as well as interesting and creative. You can be the judge as to what extent I am successful in this effort!

Many of the projects are assessed using a combination of rubric and teacher comment. Freshly graded homework is usually returned the following week to the student. The student should bring the work to you  to review the assessment and comments. I would like you to keep all completed projects. I can store them in school, if necessary.

The main focus of my effort this year is for each student to have designed an efficient system for homework by years end. Some of the primary features I'm looking for are:

  • The student's work is completed independently, without the need for too much parental pressure, or assistance. Students are calm, independent, and accept the responsibility for their own homework. They will call fellow students for help and collaboration, where appropriate.
  • The student's work is completed in a total of four to five hours per week. Students should try to design a homework schedule that allows for one hour homework a night, for five nights. This schedule needs to be an effective and  successful one, where students usually get the higher grades, and always demonstrate, at least, effort. They are comfortable and relaxed, as well as dogged and persistently hard working.

Parents can help me best in the following ways:

  • Parents should aim for independence from student homework by the end of the year. Try to give as little assistance to the student as possible. If the students have questions about the homework, they should be encouraged to contact each other first. It's different for each student, of course, as to how independent each one will be ready to become!
  • Parents should make all final decisions about homework completion. If there is a pressing family event, or perhaps you just feel your child needs a break, or the work is too much, or too difficult, or your child is unwell; whatever the circumstance, if you provide a note for me, I will assess accordingly. Family peace always comes first in my book. Parents should be the boss of homework. Homework should never be a burden for a whole family. For me, having homework be as stress free as possible for your family circumstances is a major priority.
  • Students are required to complete all jobs - unless there is a note.  I'll do my best to give the students fair and interesting projects. You, the parents, should decide what is best for your child, as to how much work they put in on any given project. Without a note, the students must work on incomplete homework jobs during free time at school.
  • Don't let your child work much above six hours on a project - unless they're really 'into' it, of course!
  • If your child is having a difficult time emotionally with homework, perhaps as a result of time management issues, for example, let me know, and we can adjust the plan. For me, the preferred system for homework is the 'set time of day every day' system: one hour a day, everyday, is better than doing it all in one monster night, in my opinion!

I hope you like the projects and enjoy the fifth grade homework experience. Contact me with any concerns you have, and we can chat.

Mike