All Toronto Prep School teachers list homework, documents and projects on our Wiki site. It’s easy to keep track of due dates and what will be happening next.

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In recent years there has been much debate about homework and its relative merits. Students resent spending their free time working on assignments, teachers are frustrated with students who turn in homework late or fail to complete the work at all, and parents are understandably chagrined at having to play the role of enforcer to their children, turning family time into a series of power struggles over schoolwork. A trend towards assigning more and more homework has some students even turning to plagiarism as a quick fix.

Some educational activists have called for an end to homework altogether, alleging that the negative factors involved outweigh any good that may come from at-home assignments. However, recent studies show that homework can be extremely beneficial to secondary students. One study showed that the average high school student who completed their homework scored 69 per cent higher on standardized tests than fellow students who didn’t finish homework assignments. Homework creates good study habits, promotes self-discipline and reinforces subject matter learned in class. What then, is the solution to the homework problem?

Toronto Prep School has come up with integrated strategies for the assignment and assessment of homework. First, our teachers assign only the work they feel is necessary. The out-dated policy of having teachers assign a certain number of minutes of homework per day isn’t a productive use of anyone’s time. Next, homework assignments are clearly understood before a student leaves the classroom. The responsibility for clarifying assignments rests on the student and our teachers make themselves available at the end of class to answer questions. Homework may consist of class work that wasn’t completed, studying for tests, drills on previously taught work, preparatory reading or projects such as essays. We give our students laptops and help them to record the due dates for assignments and tests in the calendar function. Toronto Prep School also lists all homework assignments and exam dates online (tpshome.wikispaces.com), so that parents and students can easily access the information.

A dialogue between our school and our parents helps to ensure that the whole family understands homework expectations. Parents can help their children by providing a quiet place to complete homework, posting a calendar with assignment due dates noted and encouraging good time management skills.

Toronto Prep School has established systems for dealing with students whose homework is not completed on time. Usually this consists of having students spend time after school finishing the work. If homework is still not being completed in a responsible fashion, TPS requires students to spend a Saturday at school working on assignments. Of course, our faculty make themselves available daily before school (9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.)and after school (After School Study Club) to help students with homework difficulties or to give project and study advice.

The solution to the issue of homework is to take an approach that makes sense, followed by the school and parents working together. Toronto Prep School knows this and therefore we are better able to help our students achieve their full potential.