The Positive Ps of PREP - Head's BlogPosted on: 27/04/2018
PRACTICE *** PARTICIPATION *** PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
PARENT-CHILD RELATIONS *** PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION
There have been years of debate in educational forums regarding the value of homework. In some maintained schools they have stopped giving pupils homework, claiming that it puts pupils who do not have support from home at a disadvantage. I am not about to be drawn into the debate as to whether children should or should not be ‘learning’ outside of school. I believe that children are naturally inquisitive and will learn if the learning is relevant, interesting and they are able to make connections to their prior learning or it prepares them for future learning.
Over the years I have worked in schools who have called ‘homework’ various things. ‘Home learning’ which perhaps takes the stigma of the labour of ‘work’ away from its name (work is something adults do to earn a living). In other schools it has been called ‘Prep’ - namely because it is ‘Preparation’ for the next day to further develop knowledge, understanding and skills.
Here at St. Helen’s College for pupils in Y3-Y6 we are now offering supervised ‘Prep’ as part of the Funtasia routine. The pupils have some down time after school, play with their friends, have some tea then go upstairs to one of the Year 6 classrooms where they have a calm, peaceful environment to ‘prepare’ for the next step of their learning, for the next day at school. Pupils have access to the chromebooks/laptops if needed and a member of our staff supervises and supports the pupils as necessary.
This week it was delightful to hear that some children had wanted to start their ‘Prep’ as soon as they arrived at Funtasia - so eager were they to continue their learning! On Tuesday I joined about 16 pupils during ‘Prep’ and was so impressed by their dedicated participation and by the pride they were all taking in their tasks. There were pupils writing their spelling sentences, researching WWII evacuees and making notes, using their flipped learning resource to practise some mathematical concepts….the tasks were wide ranging but each task was preparing the children for what lies ahead. ‘Prep’ at Funtasia is not compulsory; however, as a parent myself with a child in a Preparatory School some time ago, I know that it took a lot of pressure off us as a family. We would arrive home from our busy days and as parents we would still engage in what our daughter had completed in ‘Prep’ but we never had what can be for some families a ‘battle’ to start homework at perhaps 7 p.m. These situations are not constructive or useful to anyone!
For younger pupils, the Funtasia staff are always happy to hear the children read for some of the time too - but this does not replace the daily reading which is still expected at home between the adults and children.
'Prep’ should be completed in a quiet, calm environment. Do praise your child's efforts in their ‘prep’ but keep expectations high! If you know they really have not focussed or the task has been completed in a slapdash manner - do feel free to jot a note in their homework diary. (Mmm! Perhaps we need to rename them for next year to ‘Prep Diary’!)
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