Our program does not overburden children with homework for the sake of homework. We feel that it is vital that children have time after school and on weekends to play with peers and to enjoy the outdoors and other activities. Research indicates that there is little correlation between the amount of homework given in elementary schools and student achievement rates.
Our hope is that children will extend the conversations they have at school to the family time at home and over dinner. We want children to read, write, and problem-solve at home and to use information-gathering and critical-thinking skills in their daily lives. We ask parents to create a quiet space for their child to work on school projects and to assist only as needed.
Homework at The Children’s School is designed to supplement, reinforce, and continue the work of the classroom in a meaningful and developmentally appropriate manner. By third and fourth grades, students may be conducting research at home and preparing for class presentations. Fifth graders may have multiple assignments throughout any given week, including vocabulary words, math work, and discussion preparation for shared reading projects. We want children to have the tools of good study habits without being burdened by a large quantity of work to be completed.
We view each child as a complex, unique, and active individual. We ask teachers, parents, and the children themselves to reflect upon their learning strategies, accomplishments, and challenges. We believe that students should be given opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge in multiple ways, such as writing, speaking, building, discussing, and demonstrating.
For our assessment purposes, children do not participate in timed, standardized tests. Wherever possible, we rely on authentic assessment tasks that are not separate from the actual instruction but are part of the learning process. As students prepare to transition from The Children’s School, they are exposed to standardized tests as a means of providing them practice and experience for future learning environments.
There are three parent teacher conferences (approximately 45 minutes each) scheduled during the year to discuss the progress of each child as part of ongoing home/school communication. A portfolio of student work is kept in the classroom as a means of recording continued progress in all areas of study. Assessment of social and emotional growth also occurs throughout the school year as students work to develop skills involving responsibility, collaboration, social justice, democratic citizenship, and global awareness.
Because we know that each child’s growth must unfold in its own singular way, we do not make comparisons among children. We do not use letter grades or quantitative measures when reviewing student work. Intrinsic motivation and reflection are key components of our assessments as we collaborate with children to review their progress. Parents are invited to goal setting conferences and serve as partners in meeting agreed upon measures for success, unique to each child.