Elementary News: Why Home Learning?



Our elementary students are fully engaged in learning activities for nearly eight hours a day. We believe that after school, students should extend their learning beyond the classroom by engaging is self-directed activities. Such activities might include but are not limited to: cooking, singing, art, instrument, languages, sports, and play. Thirty minutes of daily reading is an essential part of Home Learning. We encourage students to read whatever it is that interests them.


So there's no homework?

Students in the elementary are not assigned homework. There may be times when the teacher, parent and child create a plan to address an academic challenge. There are times when some students may require additional language support or extra practice with math facts but these instances are not the general norm. We want to make sure that all of our students’ learning needs are met while also ensuring that students are given an opportunity for self-directed activities.


What does Home Learning look like?

Children engage in active and/or creative, unstructured play.

Students read for pleasure for at least 30 minutes.

We encourage parents to “read to” their child every day.

Children follow their interests and have choice in what they want to learn during the after school hours.


Why does ISD support Home Learning?

Home Learning empowers students to make choices in their learning.

Home Learning inspires inquiry, exploration and a love for learning.

As a PYP School, we support the development of a variety of talents and interests outside the school. Some students enjoy learning to play an instrument or learning an additional language. Other students are interested in their own research.

Home Learning helps students to realize that learning does not end at the end of the school day.

When students practice independent learning, they no longer have be told to learn but begin investigations on their own.


Clickable Research

Pediatrics -The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds

Time Magazine - Why I Think All Schools Should Abandon Homework

Health Line - Is too Much Homework Bad for Kids?

Live Science - Too Much Homework...


Clickable Video Clips

Here is a nice example of a child doing their own home learning.

Here is a quick clip about what doctors have to say about play and brain development.

More research and comments on homework


Frequently asked questions:


I am concerned that my Francofone child’s mother tongue language skills will suffer because there will be no practice going on at home.

Reading is the most effective way to develop language skills. We encourage your child to read each evening for at least 30 minutes in their mother tongue. Reading with your children and talking to them about their reading will do wonders to build their fluency and comprehension.


Why did you decide to take this direction?

There are no studies or research to show that repetitive elementary homework practice is an effective means to build skills or increase comprehension. Because of this we believe there are better uses of your child’s time after school has concluded. Children learn and grow best experientially, and when explorations are undertaken in context (personal interest, needs, wants, applicability). A child’s own passions should direct their activities after school. We want to encourage unstructured play and family time. There is a fair amount of evidence to support the value of unstructured play. It builds brain schemas that accelerate cognitive development. With this in mind we want to empower and encourage your child to pursue their interests unencumbered by expectation. Our school also recognizes the paramount and sacred value of family time. You should have the option to choose how to spend your time together after school without the burden of academic tasks laid before you.


I feel that homework teaches discipline, builds academic stamina, and develops accountability. How will my child acquire these skills and attributes with no assigned homework?

There are many ways to instill the attributes of stamina, discipline and accountability. Athletics, musical pursuits, the visual arts, drama, dance, gardening, cooking, pet care, family and community service will go much further in developing positive attributes in your children than repetitive academic practice. Your child should have the time and choices to follow their passions. Pursuing passion can lead to personal goal setting. Setting and achieving personal goals builds many attributes that define character.

I have high expectations for my child’s academic future. How will this school prepare my child for more rigorous academic institutions later on?

One of the most powerful forces toward academic success is a love for learning. Inundating your child with large quantities of homework in elementary school provides no guarantee that they will find success later on. In fact, mistaking volume for rigor will very likely imbue your child’s sense of wonder. We don’t want children to grow and see academics as simply a series of unending tasks. By removing the burden of anomalous homework assignments, we free them up to pursue their interests. Children’s activities should resonate with them and satisfy their sense of self. It is evident that we all learn more when we love what we do. Loving what we do is a fundamental component to happiness. Happiness and a sense of well being are what we all really want for our children anyway.


If there is no homework after school what is my child going to do?

The choices are almost unlimited. If you would like a starting point we can provide an initial set of activities designed to promote family interaction and/or individual pursuits. In the end how your children spend their time is between you and them.


What does “no homework” actually mean?

No homework means that our school will not assign nor hold children accountable for extended skill practice. This would include traditional homework such as spelling lists, math worksheets, grammar practice, comprehension worksheets, handwriting, sight words, or any memorization tasks.


Your child may be asked to enrich their learning experience through a family activity. They may be asked to further explore an idea, interview you, teach you something, or attend to a question they came up with themselves at school. Your child will also be asked to read anything of their choice for at least 30 minutes each evening. Reading with your child and discussing what they are reading will increase their interest in this activity.


I want my child to have homework. Homework is the norm back in our home country and someday we will have to return there. How will she/he be prepared for the transition?

We realize that various cultures hold different expectations for homework, academics and the time commitment required to attend to such. While we recognize these different perspectives, we choose to hold true international research and its conclusions on homework for elementary aged children. The freedoms your children will enjoy to follow their hearts after school will generate confidence, curiosity, creativity appreciation, independence, enthusiasm, and most importantly balance. These attributes will provide far greater benefits back in your home country than hours of prescribed homework tasks.


How will you prepare my child for homework in middle school?

Middle school home learning policies vary. Our own middle school begins sixth grade by stating that a reasonable amount of homework lasts a maximum of one hour per evening. This is not a huge stretch from the 30 minutes of reading we ask in elementary school. As the second half of fifth grade gets underway, teachers may ask students to independently research a concept or idea. This research could carry over into a home learning experience. We feel that homework assignment tasks designed to simply prepare for an increased time commitment in middle school are not an effective use of your child’s afternoon and evening. As they cognitively develop in middle school, students will naturally build the stamina required for age appropriate homework assignments.


The International School of Dakar

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