Homework Policy

 

There is a lot of debate over the effectiveness of homework, especially busywork that can feel burdensome and irrelevant to students. It is also common for this type of filler work to become a source for conflict between a parent and child, or between a teacher and child.

Unnecessary homework--and the resulting conflict--is antithetical to the TASIS Portugal philosophy of learning. We believe homework should be meaningful and intentionally assigned to support student learning. This does not make TASIS Portugal less rigorous than schools where there are hours of homework assigned on a nightly basis; it simply highlights the school’s awareness of what works in education and a commitment to our students’ well-being AND achievement.

That said, teachers will assign relevant, thoughtful homework at TASIS Portugal as part of the instructional program. The summer reading recommendations and requirements are the start of this practice. Beginning in September, daily practice with reading and math are prioritized to support the increasing complexity of content throughout the school year. Knowledge builds on itself, and a well-established foundation in literacy and math sets the stage for academic success with a sense of ease, creativity, and joy.

TASIS Portugal provides a range for time spent on homework that is guided by developmental readiness, knowing that students work at different paces. Written homework may not be assigned every night, and parents and students are encouraged to communicate with their teachers whenever questions arise. In the ELC through Grade 3, homework is focused on reading and math facts practice. Teachers may also assign additional practice or extensions individualized to student learning needs. In upper elementary and middle school, homework assignments continue to reinforce the habit of daily reading and aim to extend classroom learning in subject area classes.

Grade Level 

Daily Reading 

Pre-K- 3: Daily Math Facts Practice 

Weekends 

Pre-K 1&2 

15-30 minutes 

5-10 minutes 

None 

Kindergarten 

15-30 minutes 

5-10 minutes 

None 

Grade 1

15-30 minutes 

5- 10 minutes 

None 

Grade 2 

15-30 minutes 

5-10 minutes 

None 

Grade 3 

15-30 minutes 

5-10 minutes 

None 

Grade Level 

Daily Reading 

4-7: Subject Area Homework 

Rarely/Occasionally 

Grade 4

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 40 minutes 

Rarely 

Grade 5

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 50 minutes 

Rarely 

Grade 6

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 60 minutes 

Occasionally 

Grade 7

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 70 minutes 

Occasionally 

 

Make a Habit of Reading for 15-30 Minutes a Day

Encouraging daily reading as part of a school’s homework policy is essential to building a culture of reading within the school.Core Knowledge exposes students to classic literature throughout the grades, and all genres and formats are considered of equal value when establishing a positive educational habit;including,but not limited to: read-alouds, audiobooks, nonfiction, graphic novels, magazines, class novels, and independent reading.

Our goal is for our students to build a habit of reading for 15-30 minutes a day. We know quantity and quality matter to maximize the benefits of daily reading. Fifteen minutes of sustained daily reading is the “magic number” at which students make significant gains in reading achievement; students who read for a half hour to an hour per day consistently achieve at the highest levels across content areas.

While there are many factors that play a role in academic performance, including quality of instruction, access to reading materials, and family background, it’s important to understand the link between daily reading time and academic growth. Between kindergarten and Grade 12, the amount of time students spend on daily reading significantly impacts their exposure to vocabulary.

(chart source linked in graphic)

Students who read 30+ minutes a day are given the opportunity to see more than nine times the amount of vocabulary growth of their peers who read less. TASIS Portugal’s faculty understands the potential for vocabulary growth when direct instruction, structural analysis strategies, and reading practice are all used to reinforce one another. They also understand that vocabulary plays a critical role in reading achievement and that more than half the variance in students’ reading comprehension is explained by the depth and breadth of their vocabulary knowledge (Qian, D. D. (2002).

Math Facts Fluency

The literal root definition of the word mathematics is “learning” in Greek and “thinking” in Hebrew. Like the relationship between reading and vocabulary, math facts underpin mathematical problem solving, and math facts fluency frees students to think and reason with math, rather than limiting them to the procedural realm of calculation alone. It follows that mathematics hold equal priority with literacy development in the TASIS Portugal homework philosophy.

The Singapore Math approach relies on 5-10 minutes of at-home math facts practice without relying solely on rote memorization to achieve automaticity. When we can stimulate students' creativity, imagination, and confidence with hands-on strategies, we can more effectively spark their curiosity and enjoyment of learning.

The Singapore Math approach moves beyond traditional memorization, based on the understanding that number sense leads to fact fluency, and that fact fluency and higher-order thinking can be taught simultaneously. Conceptual understanding and basic facts competency play an important role in securing fact fluency. Because of this, students have at-home practice opportunities to 1) apply specific strategies that promote fluency, 2) use strategy to analyze problems and apply multiple problem-solving strategies, 3) synthesize and apply knowledge of fact strategies to real-world problems, 4) evaluate and create new math thinking through movement, drawing, writing, or talking, and 5) tackle challenge questions.

To begin, students are taught to build facts through counting numbers. With this skill, they can use known information to determine the answer of an unknown combination. Working towards mastery, students become more efficient, fast, and accurate in their production of answers to math calculations. To reach mastery with math facts, it is important to focus on establishing a firm grounding in mathematical thinking.

Subject Area Course Work in Upper Elementary (Grades 4/5) and Middle School

Starting in Grade 4, students add subject area course work to their nightly homework routine. We continue to emphasize the habit of reading and make the shift from math facts practice to higher level math problem solving. Reading and math homework can be expected nightly; other subject areas will vary more in the regularity of assigned homework.

Upper elementary and middle school faculty will plan and coordinate consistently to ensure that a student's total homework responsibility remains within the guidelines for their grade level. Students can expect to receive feedback on completed work within 48 hours of submission. Homework will not be regularly assigned on weekends, nor will tests or project due dates be set for Mondays. Whenever a student is unable to complete assignments in the recommended amount of time, they are encouraged to contact the teacher who assigned the work.

Grade Level 

Daily Reading 

4-7: Subject Area Homework 

Rarely/Occasionally 

Grade 4

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 40 minutes 

Rarely 

Grade 5

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 50 minutes 

Rarely 

Grade 6

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 60 minutes 

Occasionally 

Grade 7

30 minutes + 

Maximum of 70 minutes 

Occasionally 

 

ref: Qian, D. D. (2002). Investigating the Relationship Between Vocabulary Knowledge and Academic Reading Performance: An Assessment Perspective. Language Learning, 52(3), 513-536.