Crosswords or colouring?

In embracing an evidence-based educational model, schools in Wellington NZ are ditching traditional homework in favour of more real-world and fun activities like crosswords, boardgames and reading comics.

The move away from ‘homework  for homework sake’ is aimed at nurturing children’s  interest in reading and other creative activities.

The principal of Karori Normal School has told parents there is no ‘evidence’ to suggest that homework has a positive impact on student learning.

This move has been applauded by John Hattie who says for most kids, homework is a waste of time.

I think it is terrific that schools are finally seeing the links between enjoyment, engagement and learning.

Small steps lead to great change.

4 thoughts on “Crosswords or colouring?

  1. As a parent, not an educator, I think this is a good initiative. It’s often a struggle to get kids to do their homework (even the name ‘work’) implies it’s not much fun. But give them an activity or game, and they never want to stop ‘playing’.

    Giving children a reason to learn (e.g. crack a code, complete a word puzzle etc) is much more effective and engaging than a worksheet of sums or spelling words.

    1. Everyone has experience of homework – therefore everyone has a viewpoint. Homework has been a contentious issue for as long as I have been teaching – too much, not enough, not marked, marked too hard, meaningless tasks and spelling lists that do not teach children to spell – the list is endless.

      There is little evidence to support homework in primary school. We know that our children need to read more – so that is exactly what we have done at St John’s. We have home reading as our ‘homework’. Children record what they read, parents ask some questions about the texts and books are exchanged regularly. Children love it, teachers love it – parents are mixed in their reaction.

      One of the best spin offs from our home reading program, is that children are freed up at home to work on their own interests. We are finding that children are readily bringing in work that they have done at home to share with the teachers and students. The children are enthusiastic, engaged in meaningful tasks and excited by what they have done. And so are we.

  2. Yes, “small steps lead to great change”. Our school has recently changed our approach to homework by making it more meaningful, purposeful and engaging, mind you, not only for the students but for the teachers too ( how engaging is marking lists of words and checking reading logs that only give a book title and parent signature-NOT!) I’ve just read one of the reading responses from one of our students on my grades’ CEnet page -“Thanks for this I used to hate reading but now I love commenting on what I’m reading..” That says it all for me, and what a pleasure to mark !
    There was some apprehension at first, understandably, but we are beginning to see a shift already in many parents’ feelings. The parents have also been invited to join a committee in developing a homework policy for the school.
    Personally, my all time favourite homework task is sitting around the dinner table having a conversation.

    1. What a great story. I wish every teacher would give it a go. Greg

      Greg Whitby Executive Director of Schools Diocese of Parramatta Mb: 0419 254 556

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