Let us focus on the Learning NOT the work!

Catherine Chiuco

The Primary school has spent the last year looking hard at our Home Learning Policy. A collective of teachers and leaders met on a regular basis to review this policy. Our first step was to reflect on the existing policy, and to raise concerns and questions. We then began researching home learning and tried to find out what up-to-date studies have shown, as well as, what other school were doing. In order to make meaningful and relevant changes we asked all stakeholders (students, parents, and teachers) to tell us what they think about our home learning: strengths and weaknesses. All this information was then analysed for commonalities and finally synthesized into a new Home Learning Policy in the Primary School. Below you will find details of the policy including our key objectives, beliefs, and vision for the future. The big idea here is that we would like to focus on LEARNING. Whether inside or outside the school we aim to maximize the learning opportunities for our students. As members of our school community, and as parents, you play an essential role in facilitating and promoting our school’s home learning policy.

 

The sole purpose of home learning should be to support students and teachers in further developing a love of learning.

by Roula Ismail, Head of Primary

 

The Primary school has spent the last year looking hard at our Home Learning Policy. A collective of teachers and leaders met on a regular basis to review this policy. Our first step was to reflect on the existing policy, and to raise concerns and questions. We then began researching home learning and tried to find out what up-to-date studies have shown, as well as, what other school were doing. In order to make meaningful and relevant changes we asked all stakeholders (students, parents, and teachers) to tell us what they think about our home learning: strengths and weaknesses. All this information was then analysed for commonalities and finally synthesized into a new Home Learning Policy in the Primary School. Below you will find details of the policy including our key objectives, beliefs, and vision for the future. The big idea here is that we would like to focus on LEARNING. Whether inside or outside the school we aim to maximize the learning opportunities for our students. As members of our school community, and as parents, you play an essential role in facilitating and promoting our school’s home learning policy.

Home Learning Objectives

  • To allow students access to learning anywhere at any time 
  • To provide parents with an insight into, and allow them to contribute to their child’s learning 
  • To encourage students to develop the practice of self-directed learning 
  • To develop perseverance, self-discipline and organisational skills 
  • To allow practise, where it is required, for skills learned in the classroom  
  • To consolidate previously learned knowledge and skills 
  • To allow students to demonstrate and develop knowledge or skills in an extended manner in an area of study that interests them 
  • To open up areas of study and to make possible the use of materials and sources of information that are not always accessible in the classroom
  • To prepare for forthcoming lessons/topic area
  • To explore real-life application of concepts covered in school 

Expectations

The PYP encourages students to take responsibility for their own learning and this applies at home as well. The emphasis on student action encourages students to continue their learning in the home - including independent research, units of inquiry projects, single subject learning and practice such as maths, language learning, PE and PA. All students should be reading every day, either to themselves or with an adult. The emphasis should be on reading for enjoyment. This may involve any area of the curriculum in alignment with the PYP. In single subject classes such as language, students and teachers will also determine purposeful and meaningful home learning where and when applicable. Home learning should be a personal learning experience for each student. Tasks should represent student choice and interest.

Therefore, we understand that there are the following types of tasks - (a) practice, (b) preparation and (c) exploration. The choice of tasks should be shared or negotiated with students and be purposeful to the needs or readiness of the learner. The completion of daily and weekly home learning tasks is an expectation at the International School of London Qatar. It is also expected that home learning is an opportunity to support learners in becoming more self-directed. The emphasis here is on nurturing a love of learning, not a learning system that involves merits or penalties. Students will be trained to develop tasks that suit their interests and/or their needs. Gone are the days of ‘busy work’ or practice for the sake of practice. Home learning should be dynamic, exciting and personal and ultimately, it should support learners in becoming better self-adjusters. 

At the International School of London Qatar, we have not outlined the amount of time that students should expect to work on home learning. Learning pace, readiness and needs are personal to each learner. Students should expect to learn how to identify their own learning readiness and set reasonable learning targets in consultation with their teacher. Furthermore, it is expected that the length and complexity of tasks will increase as students move through the different grades.  In consultation with each other, teachers and students should consider the following when coming up with home learning tasks:

  • Home learning can be set daily, weekly, monthly, or to coincide with a unit of inquiry
  • The completion of home learning is a school expectation. Teachers will follow up if home learning is not completed on a regular basis, with consideration of particular student needs where appropriate.
  • Students and teachers will review and feedback (oral or written) on home learning in a timely manner.