We’ve all had to suffer homework. It’s the fate of children worldwide. Parents have suffered and so children must. Or should they?
Many educators will argue that homework adds nothing to a child’s progress and understanding, and can actually do more damage than good. Some might argue that homework can rob a child of their love of learning, and add extra stress to children who already work hard at school and have a busy extra-curricular life. And no-one could argue that homework does not impact on family life – whether it’s stealing important time spent together or the cause of many an argument about time-management and quadratic equations.
Here at Roselyon we have taken the dramatic move of cancelling homework. Homework, in its traditional sense, does not have a place in our school. This means if the weather is fine, Roselyon families enjoy the beach after school, without the worry of a worksheet due in the morning. Mums, dads and children can go to a movie, concert or sporting event as a family, or celebrate Gran’s birthday together. That’s what family life is about.
Of course, there is reading to do (sharing a good book together at bedtime – who doesn’t enjoy that?) and spellings and tables to learn, but the rest of the time it’s up to the children and their parents. Our ‘homework’ is in the form of longer-term projects, which are chosen by the children and are so thrilling to them, that they really want to engage. On a wet weekend in Cornwall, they can get on with research into something which truly excites them, which is far better preparation for independent thinking and learning than traditional ‘homework’ is.
We have designed our school day to be a little longer for the older children, so that they can reflect on all that has happened and what they have discovered in their research. Our subject teachers are thrilled to learn about topics outside their normal experience and the children are enthusiastic to share their knowledge. Often there’s time to share a story or play a game together at the end of the day and then go home full of tales of sport, art, music, science, geography, history, Latin…the list is a long one! We value all subjects and give the children a chance to immerse themselves in their learning.
So, yes, it’s a bit different to what we all know as ‘homework’, but our approach means the children have a hand in planning their own learning, they are able to pursue their own passions and interests, and they learn to think for themselves – all of which make for more engaged children and better lessons.
We’re delighted with the system – and so are the children.
At Roselyon School we believe in small class sizes. Our current classes are around 10 children per class and we’ll never allow more than 18 in a Roselyon class. But why does that matter?
Well, let’s compare two classes. In terms of teacher ability, student levels, and student behaviour, they are essentially identical. The only difference is that one class has 10 children and the other has 30. Which class would you want your child in? Which class is better for the child? The smaller one is the obvious answer, but do you know exactly why?
Here are five reasons why a smaller class size is so important:
1. More one -to-one time
In our 10-pupil class, it stands to reason that each child will have three times more individual time with their teacher. This type of educating is critical, both for development of skills and for inspiring children.
2. Easier to identify issues
In large classes, teachers can struggle to identify where problems might be arising, and then because their time is so limited, they may struggle to adequately address these issues. Within these kinds of spaces, where teachers have too little time to watch for and address individual issues, children can begin to ‘slip through the cracks’.
3. More cohesive class culture
A smaller class will ultimately make a more cohesive group than a larger one. In a smaller classroom setting, children will have the opportunity to interact with and form relationships with all of their classmates, ensuring that the class is more supportive of each other.
4. Children are more engaged
When children have a good relationship with their teacher and know they are responsible for their work and level of participation, they become more engaged. When they care what their teacher thinks of their performance, they produce better work.
5. Research shows tremendous benefits to small classes
Don’t just take our word for it – the vast majority of research shows that children perform better in all subjects, at all levels, in smaller classes.