Do you have homework?
Welcome back to Term 3. I can’t believe we are in Semester 2, thinking about the upcoming Activities Camp Week and knee-deep in the planning for 2023. I hope our students have had some time to reflect and think about their progress throughout Semester 1.
I encourage our students to evaluate their individual learning journey, think about what they can do to improve in Semester 2 and work with their tutors and subject teachers to set realistic goals. Engaging students in regular reflection and equipping them with a variety of reflective skills and strategies, at school and at home, has many benefits. Reflection is woven through the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP). Being reflective is one of the ten Learner Profile attributes that we want to cultivate in our students. Similarly, developing specific reflection skills is one of the Approaches to Learning skills that is developed across the IB curriculum and all programs at Woodleigh. The ability to reflect in discipline-specific ways is also embedded in many of the MYP learning areas.
How to help students juggle their commitments
Senior Campus students are often juggling a range of commitments. The commitments increase as they get older, and as a result the demands become greater. We also know that their personal development is in overdrive. Hormones and the journey to find their own identity in the world adds to the challenge of finding a balance. How do families support students to meet this demand? There is an abundance of evidence that suggests a healthy diet, exercise and good quality sleep are essential to supporting this phase of growth; physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.
Parents frequently lament that it can be a battle to motivate teenagers to complete homework or to do any study at home. It can be a cause of conflict between parents and their teenagers. As parents, we dread asking the question: ‘Do you have homework?’ The bottom line is that, yes, all students have homework most of the time. There is a difference between allocated tasks and revision. A sound study routine and timetable at home is a vital ingredient for success.
How do we strike a balance?
Develop a study timetable
When organising the timetable, students should always schedule the activities they love doing FIRST. It's suggested students divide this into categories such as hobbies, television and sport. Hobbies can include watching Netflix or computer games. It's recommended that we accommodate their use of social media and plan for it in their schedule. Once they physically block out the times that are for entertainment, they can schedule study commitments into the timetable. It allows students the opportunity to review their schedule and often they realise that they have too much time allocated towards ‘fun’. This promotes independence which provides students with the responsibility to make choices with parents’ ongoing support.
Longer term planning
The use of a small whiteboard and whiteboard markers to create the timetable and visually plan ahead. Always look at a timetable or calendar and mark when an assignment is due and plan backward from there.
Time versus Goals
At Woodleigh, there are different homework time expectations for different year levels. As a guide:
• Year 7 – up to 4 hours per week
• Year 8 – up to 5 hours per week
• Year 9 – up to 5 hours per week
• Year 10 – up to 10 hours per week
• Year 11 – up to 15 hours per week
• Year 12 – up to 15 hours per week
It is just as important that your child completes a list of goals at the start of the study session. This will allow them to keep on task and re-assess their progress.
The maximum amount of time that a teenager can sit at a desk and concentrate for is 50 minutes. A rest break should be for 5-10 minutes, and they should then reconvene their study. It's suggested that a rest break could include 5 minutes of television or similar 'down time' where the brain can totally switch off.
The study environment should be clear of any possible distractions. Students should check their desk set-up and lighting. This includes no phones or social media. A device and its connection with the internet has a time and place within study. This should be monitored and reviewed at the start of the session when your son or daughter is planning their study. If they are working from a textbook or note-taking, then it is not required within the space.
Music or no music?
A student does not require music when studying and it can be a distraction depending on when it is used. In my opinion, if a student is drawing or working creatively, this could be a possible scenario when music is used. Students should keep in mind that they cannot use music in an exam situation and students should not train their brain to rely on music to concentrate. This is a personal choice but should be discussed with parents.
The most successful students develop a daily habit of writing notes from each subject that they have attended during the day. This could be as simple as trigger words, a concept and an example of its application or key ideas. Flash cards or visuals are good ways of reinforcing content.
Practice exam questions under exam conditions (ie/ time limits) at home.
I hope these suggestions help you to be a positive support for your child at home. This term, I recommend our students establish effective routines to support their learning growth and progress into 2023. Don't forget, Homestead staff and subject teachers are a wonderful source of support and will be more than happy to work with students on routines that will assist their learning.
I wish you a safe, healthy and productive term ahead.
Deputy Principal – Head of Senior Campus