Family Time / Peaceful Evenings
We believe the evening hours should be a time when the family gently unwinds from the events of the day, not an occasion of tears, stress, or tension. Consequently, following Charlotte Mason’s lead, we do not assign traditional homework to students in grades 1-7.
If there is a genuine need for a child to do additional work at home, we believe:
- It should first be agreed upon with the parent.
- The work should be tailored to the academic need of the child.
- It should be carried out under the discretion of the parent. Only the parent knows what can be peacefully accomplished on a given night.
All students are encouraged to read at home every night, either alone or with a parent. One mother, a literature teacher, said, “I have books I have wanted to share with my girls, but in their previous school there was so much homework, we had no time to read together.”
Individualized Practice Work
If a student requires extra help in developing an academic skill such as reading, penmanship, or math facts, we provide parents with materials to assist their child and make recommendations for practice times. Parents determine the schedule for practice.
Parent Initiated Study
Some parents routinely choose to have their children do some academic work at home because they believe it establishes a good habit. One parent said: “While I don’t believe homework should consume every waking moment of a child’s life, I believe a certain amount is good.” We support the parent’s choice; it is the parent who is choosing when and how this work is to be done. The parent does not answer to us.
Students may use the evening hours to initiate their own creative projects. One eleven year old boy wrote:
“I love to write stories and before I came to Plumfield, all my time was taken up with homework. This year, at home, I wrote 75 pages of the first part of a fantasy trilogy.”
Creative projects could also include work in art, music, inventions, and research.
Some middle school students use their time at home to complete their assigned work for the Wednesday and Friday deadlines.
Child Initiated Extra Practice
A student may choose to bring work home in order to give more attention to a concept he or she struggled with that day in class. One of our third graders, in her second week with us, took her math book home to practice a particular type of problem. Her mother (who was relieved by our no homework policy) said,
“Wait a minute! I thought they weren’t going to give you homework! Did they send that book home with you?!?!” “Mom, Mom, it’s okay! I took it myself. I’m taking responsibility for my own education. That’s what we do at Plumfield.”
Extra Curricular Studies
A student may decide to take an evening course in some area of interest, e.g. sports, scouting, Judo, Karate, etc. For instance, one of our 7th grade boys took an evening course with North Shore Baseball Umpires Association which trained him to become a baseball umpire.
High School Prep
Reading and note taking homework assignments are given to 8th graders and are discussed in class.
Parent and child need down time as never before: enjoy a board game, watch a good documentary or movie, read together, take a walk on the beach, go to a ballgame, rake the leaves in the yard, make a card for a sick friend, visit someone in need, etc. There are so many ways to enjoy being together, so many ways to get at real life.
Our teachers will never send home an assignment which will require you to figure out what the teacher wants.
Our teachers will not assign a report or project that needs to be completed by a certain date and which somehow becomes your burden.
- Plumfield students are not passive learners; they are reading and writing all day.
- They research their science projects in designated books and on designated websites, and prepare their reports using the school’s Power Point, Excel and Word programs.
- They are taught to organize their materials, manage their time, and meet deadlines.
All of this is accomplished in the hours of the school day so that you can have a peaceful evening in the sanctuary of your own home.
For some of the latest research on assigned homework in the pre-high school years, see “Rethinking Homework” by Alfie Kohn