Lanigan Learning Café: Understanding Homework

Lanigan first and fourth graders and their families attended a Learning Café for tips and resources on understanding the purpose of homework recently.

The event was hosted by math instructional coach Lynnette DePoint, ELA instructional coach Gina Salerno and Principal Jeff Hendrickson.

Fourth grade Lanigan student Naomi Johnson receives a “homework space” gift basket at a recent Learning Café.
Fourth grade Lanigan student Naomi Johnson receives a “homework space” gift basket at a recent Learning Café.

DePoint shared that the district policy for fourth graders is to spend approximately 40 minutes a day at home on homework.

“Homework is just a practice of what your child is already learning in school,” said DePoint. “The purpose of homework is routine and responsibility.”

Salerno shared that a big part of this is time management.

As a mother herself, she said she understands the difficulty of setting aside time for homework. One tip was to create a comfortable homework space where your child always does his or her homework, helping to establish routine and consistency.

Two students in the audience received “homework space” gift baskets with materials to create such a work environment.

Hendrickson said that homework and learning in general are always best when they are somewhere in between struggle and frustration. He indicated that a child should not be able to breeze through their homework and, in contrast, a child should also not have a clue how to solve the first problem. He related this concept to a video game: If a child starts at the first level and it is too difficult, they give up.

On the other hand, if a child gets to the fifth level and it is just as easy as the first level, they become bored and quit.

“There should be enough struggle to engage students, but not so much struggle that they reach the point of frustration,” said Hendrickson.

Hendrickson continued on to discuss common core grading, indicating that a grade below a 65 has been viewed as a failure in the past. Now, with the one through four grading system, a one or a two does not indicate failure; it simply means that the student needs more work and practice in learning the concept.

“The work that we do should be about the learning, not about the grade.” said Hendrickson. “If we get kids excited about what they are learning, they don’t want to stop.”

Students received a visual packet to reinforce the topics discussed, which also included a teacher contact list for parents to take home.

The school emphasizes the importance of parent, student and teacher communication and encourages parents to reach out if they have questions or need assistance.

The school will be hosting Learning Cafés for kindergarten, third and six grades on March 12 and for second and fifth grades on March 25.