Home Learning

Educators around the world are calling into question the value of homework and what types of extended learning are truly helpful. At Allen we value other aspects of life including family time, rest and play. With that in mind, the question we are asking is… how can we organize student learning outside of the classroom so that it is productive and efficient?

What is Home Learning?

Home Learning is presented on a schedule that allows students to control when, and sometimes how, they engage in their learning outside of the classroom. The level of control given to the student will of course vary depending on the age of the child. Teachers and parents play a more integral role in the early years and we allow our older students to own more and more of the responsibility for their learning. We hope this will teach all of our students to tackle the challenges of learning on and off campus with similar vigor. This skill set will certainly help them as they move on to college and the rest of their lives.

Home Learning in Preschool

Preschool is designed around the Home Learning ideology. We encourage individual academic growth centered around a child’s interests. Parents know all about our exciting units and learning projects provided through our lesson plans and newsletters accessed weekly through our RenWeb portal. Preschoolers learn through play and exploration – daily communication with our parents encourages opportunities for teachable moments and explorative play at home. During our recent study of insects, many of our children came to school with wonderful stories that involved a home experience with an insect. They even brought some of these insects to school for further study in the classroom. These wonderful stories and “gifts” from home are just one example of how our students take every opportunity to use the knowledge gained in the classroom and apply it to their world outside of school. They inherently utilize the idea of Home Learning as they begin to grasp the connection between their school world and their home.

– Mrs. Lori Westbrook, Head of Preschool

What is the Purpose of Home Learning?

It allows students to focus on three critical components of learning:

1. Students can focus on what is being learned as opposed to just doing things/turning work in.
2. Students are better able to own their learning. They can manage their time if they know what is due in advance and seek support as needed. In the process of learning the content and skills they will also learn about themselves.
3. Both of these areas of focus will contribute to Allen students being adaptive learners.

How is it different than homework?

Traditionally homework has been assigned to the entire class and was due, for everyone, the next day. Home learning will deemphasize everyone needing to do the same work as well as work being due the day after it was assigned. Students will know generally a week in advance what is to be done and the specifics of the assignment may be different for each student.

Home Learning in Lower School

I often tell the students that they don’t need to be inside the school to learn and receive permission from the teacher to move on and learn something new. They can learn all the time anywhere! Home Learning in 5th grade Humanities consists of students being responsible for keeping up with their typing skills on their account. The 5th graders are always reading a class book, therefore, reading at home to build their reading stamina is an expectation. Students have been given their Greek & Latin root words for the year. They are allowed to move ahead as they wish and not have to wait on the teacher’s green light. There are a few students who still struggle with spelling, they have been given extra practice to do at home. I see it as differentiated homework. With our online History resource, students have the choice to move ahead as they see fit. I currently have a student who has done this same “book”, so she moves ahead in the lessons and let’s me know when she is ready for the test. Passion has been a big part of our curriculum. Students are inspired to pursue their passion at home.

– Mrs. Nicole Engstrom, 5th Grade Humanities

How can you guide your children?

Questions similar to the following may help you have conversations with your children around Home Learning:

1. “What could you be working on to get ahead?”
2. “Are there activities you could work on tonight that will help you at school?”
3- “What are the Home Learning activities that recently have helped you learn?”
4. “What have you learned about yourself as a result of Home Learning?”

Home Learning in Middle & Upper School

In the past, I would have each student do the exact same assignment at the exact same time: read The Kite Runner chapters 1-6 by tomorrow for a quiz. Everyone was forced to move at the same pace whether that was too fast or too slow for them. Now instead of having daily homework of reading chapters for a quiz tomorrow, students have the next few weeks to finish reading their book, present a share out, and write an essay of their choice. Students have choice within their assignments, and students have much more control over how they want to use their time in and outside of class in order to meet those deadlines. This has been a recent shift for me, but I continue to find that when students have more choice and freedom to demonstrate their learning, they are not only more engaged and motivated but also continue to perform above and beyond any specific homework I could ever assign them.

– Mrs. Elizabeth Martin Middle & Upper School English, Department Chair

Where can I go for more information?

Frequently Asked Questions
Homework Myth
American School of London
Nix homework to help students? What the science says.
Houston Public Media- How homework overload stresses out families
NPREd- Homework: A new user’s guide