Purpose of this topic
To ensure schools develop a homework policy in consultation with their school community (including the principal, teachers, school council, parents/carers and students) and that the policy is communicated to all parents.
As part of a comprehensive and balanced curriculum within Victorian schools, homework is seen as one way of supporting and fostering life-long learning and connecting families with the learning of their children.
These guidelines provide information about fostering good life-long learning and study habits, the importance of administering level-appropriate homework to students, and the different types of homework that may be undertaken in schools
Schools must have a documented approach to homework which takes into account the personal and developmental needs of students.
The setting of homework needs to take into consideration the need for students to have a balanced lifestyle. This includes sufficient time for family, sport and recreation, cultural pursuits and employment where appropriate.
Implementation of good homework policy involves:
- communication between teachers; between teachers and students and parents/carers
- relates homework activity to what is taught in the classroom
- sets up an element of challenge in the homework to be set
- individualised homework activities/plans, aligned with individualised learning styles and abilities
- links homework activities with prompt, appropriate assessment and feedback.
The school homework approach should be informed by a shared understanding and be regularly monitored through feedback from teachers, students, parents/carers and the school council as appropriate.
Roles and responsibilities
Schools can support students by:
fostering lifelong learning and connecting families with the learning of their children, as part of a comprehensive and balanced curriculum within Victorian schools
ensuring the school’s homework policy is relevant to the needs of students
advising parents/carers of homework expectations at the beginning of the school year and provide them with a copy of the homework policy
encouraging parents/carers of early primary school aged children to read to and with their children for enjoyment
ensuring that upper primary and secondary school students use homework diaries to provide a regular communication between parents and the school. Diaries may be electronic.
Teachers can support students by:
- equipping students with the skills to solve problems
- encouraging real-life problem solving, logical thinking, creativity and imagination
- setting varied, challenging and meaningful tasks related to class work to suit the students' learning needs
- giving students enough time to complete homework, considering home obligations and extracurricular activities
- assessing homework and providing timely and practical feedback and support
- helping students develop organisational and time-management skills
- ensuring parents/carers are aware of the school's homework policy
- developing strategies within the school to support parents/carers becoming active partners in homework.
- offering a wide range of opportunities for families to engage in their children's learning.
Parents can support students by:
developing a positive and productive approach to homework
ensuring there is a balance between the time spent on homework and recreational activities
reading to them, talking with them and involving them in learning opportunities during everyday household routines and physical activity
talking to teachers about any concerns they have about the homework
attending the school events, productions or displays their child is involved in
ensuring upper primary and secondary students keep a homework diary
discussing homework with their child in their first language, if English is not the main language spoken at home, and linking it to previous experiences
linking homework and other learning activities to the families’ culture, history and language, linking with relevant services, clubs, associations and community groups.
Students can take responsibility for their own learning by:
being aware of the school’s homework policy
discussing with their parents or caregivers homework expectations
accepting responsibility for the completion of homework tasks within set time frames
following up on comments made by teachers
seeking assistance when difficulties arise
organising their time to manage home obligations, participation in physical activity and sports, recreational and cultural activities and part-time employment.
Value of homework
The current evidence and research shows that the quality of homework assigned is likely to be more important than the quantity. Research has established that homework has a positive effect on learning, particularly at the middle and secondary school levels (Xu, 2010; Zimmerman & Kitsantas, 2005). Although homework’s effectiveness has been challenged by educators, parents, and students (Kohn, 2006), it continues to be an important educational supplement used by most teachers to enhance the learning experience of their students (Patall, Cooper, & Wynn, 2010). Overall, the effectiveness of homework is enhanced by providing students with choices among homework tasks, which will result in higher motivational and performance outcomes, students’ autonomy, and intrinsic motivation (Patall et al., 2010).
Homework helps students by:
- complementing and reinforcing classroom learning
- fostering good lifelong learning and study habits
- providing an opportunity for students to become responsible for their own learning
- developing self-regulation processes such as goal-setting, self-efficacy, self-reflection and time management
- supporting partnerships with parents by connecting families with the learning of their children
It is not necessary to assign large amounts of homework; however it is important that homework provides students with opportunities to practice skills, review content and deepen understanding of concepts learned. Homework and practice can also help students to develop self-regulation processes, such as time management and study skills.
The table below describes quality homework practice for the different year levels.
Prep to 4
- can foster a sense of self-discipline and responsibility and prepare students for upper grades
- enables the extension of class work by practising skills or gathering of extra information or materials
- will mainly consist of daily reading to, with, and by parents/carer or older siblings
5 to 9
- should include daily independent reading
- should be coordinated across learning areas in secondary schools to avoid unreasonable workloads for students
- may extend class work, projects and assignments, essays and research.
10 to 12
as a general guide, from Year 10 to 12 would be expected to increase, and require from 1 up to 3 hours per week night with up to 6 hours on weekends during peak VCE periods.