Covenant Classical School
Homework Philosophy

Covenant is committed to partnering with parents in every aspect of the school. The school is thus dedicated to a thoughtful understanding of what work students complete outside of class, why they do it, and the necessary support required from parents. In order to partner effectively, we ask that parents seek to understand the philosophical and educational principles that inform Covenant’s view of workload and homework.

A classical Christian education requires commitment and hard work from students. However, the rewards are rich and enduring. To the degree Covenant’s curriculum and academic program is “rigorous,” it is not so for its own sake. That is, Covenant is not trying to establish an overly ambitious academic program for the sake of pride or “academic integrity.” Nor do we want to mistake high quantities of work with rigor. Thomas Aquinas said, “The essence of virtue consists in the good rather than in the difficult. Not everything that is more difficult is necessarily more meritorious; it must be more difficult in such a way that it is at the same time good in a yet higher way.” A classical Christian education is necessarily challenging due to the complexity and depth with which truth, goodness, and beauty is revealed in the ideas, events, master works, and great conversations that compose our curriculum. At the same time, the pace, scope, and sequence of the curriculum is moderated by the nature of the learner at each grade level. The result is an appropriately challenging educational experience.

Accordingly, Covenant seeks to complete a few simple, targeted goals. First, the role or our school is to introduce students to the great ideas, texts and truths of the West and of our faith. The purpose is not to exhaust the full canon of classics or force as many ideas as possible into the time allotted. It would not only be unwise, but untenable to think a classical Christian education can be achieved in the K-12 experience (much less a lifetime). Second, the school aims to provide students with the tools of learning so they are prepared to think and learn. Teaching students how to learn equips them with the lifelong ability to engage the world thoughtfully and wisely. Third, Covenant seeks to develop a deep love for learning by providing challenging, but age-appropriate experiences for students. It involves not only acquiring knowledge and skills but also transferring and applying what one has learned in a variety of new contexts and circumstances.

The ideal Covenant student experience can be characterized by what used to be called, “doxological learning,” which simply means worshipful learning. Doxological learning requires a careful and reasonable pace so as to carefully contemplate the ideas at hand, a humility and eagerness toward learning, a prayerful attitude and a rich community in which to share one’s experience. The conviction Covenant holds about doxological learning aligns with the traditional understanding of the purpose of education. The word “schola,” from which we get the word school, means “leisure.” It implies a non-hurried, restful learning. This non-hurried and even restful kind of learning is contrary to many of the norms and expectations of our culture. For this reason, it is critical that teachers and parents work together to promote, deliver, and even protect our mission and vision.

Homework at Covenant is assigned for one or more of these reasons:

  1. Mastering and retaining facts – In certain subjects (e.g. math or Latin), there is not enough time in a school day to do the amount of practice that may be necessary for mastery. Therefore, after reasonable in-class time is spent on material, the teacher may assign homework to allow for the necessary practice.
  2. Reviewing and honing skills – Repeated, short periods of practice or study of new information is often a better way to learn than one long period of study. For example, translating Greek or doing Algebra problems provides the opportunity for consistent reinforcement and refinement.
  3. Performing the necessities of the curriculum for which in-school class time is insufficient – There are some assignments that cannot be completed in class, but are essential to the progression of the curriculum. For example, writing a paper or reading the next chapter in Paradise Lost.
  4. Providing individualized or group culminating activities – There are some projects that require time outside of class, such as students preparing for an assigned presentation in rhetoric class, or students working in groups to write a skit for Bible class.
  5. Extending learning – This is investigating what the curriculum brought forward but could not afford sufficient satisfaction to a particular student curiosity; e.g., reading more about the battle of Agincourt.

Homework is not assigned for the purpose of extending curriculum that could not be completed in class by the teacher. Nor is homework assigned for the sake of simply doing more, or work given on the assumption that significant quantities of work is equivalent to academic rigor. Additionally, Covenant recognizes that parental involvement is critical to a child’s education. Homework can be used as an opportunity for parents to actively assist their child in his or her studies. This will also keep the parents informed as to the current topics of study in the class and the child’s academic engagement level.

Grammar School Homework Tiers

Logic and Rhetoric School Homework Guidelines and Homework Tiers

Homework is prioritized around areas that require outside practice and repetition or time to prepare for in-class discussion (e.g. reading). Test and exam preparation, projects, and writing assignments also compose the majority of what students are asked to do outside of class. Other classes, such as Bible, Logic, and Rhetoric are oriented so that the content is sufficiently delivered within the school day. It involves not only acquiring knowledge and skills but also transferring and applying what one has learned in a variety of new contexts and circumstances.


Grades 1-2 Grades 3-4 Grades 5-6  
Tier I Subjects – No Daily Homework
0 0 0 Bible
x x 0 Logic
0 0 0 Art and Music
Tier II Subjects – Occasional and Minimal Homework
5 5 5 Phonics and Spelling
0 0 0 History and Geography
0 0 0 Science
x 0 x 3rd-4th Latin
Tier III Subjects – Daily Homework
10 10 10 Mathematics
10 15 20 Reading and Literature
x 10 10 Grammar and Composition
x X 10 5th-6th Latin
Assessments
0-20 0-20 0-20 Study for test/quiz (Hist, Geog, Sci, Lat not same day)
Completing a project or composing a paper
Preparing for a class presentation
Totals
25-45 40-60 55-75 Minutes per day

Kindergarten has minimal homework per day.

Tier I Subjects

Bible, Logic, Art and Music

Daily homework assignments are not given in these classes.  All reading will be done in class.  Classroom assignments and feedback will be completed in class.  Students will prepare for assessments and memory work at home.

Tier II Subjects

Phonics and Spelling, History and Geography, Science, and 3rd-4th Latin

Daily classroom activities in these areas include an introduction to vocabulary, reading from cards and/or textbooks, and completing worksheets or activities to develop basic skills.  Teachers model coding and spelling techniques as students receive guided practice to improve their reading and composition skills.  Homework in these subjects may include reviewing vocabulary and facts for assessments on a regular basis.

Tier III Subjects

Mathematics, Reading and Literature, Grammar and Composition, and 5th-6th Latin

Students regularly spend class time learning these subjects through modeling, active participation, guided and independent practice.  Teachers introduce, differentiate and clarify critical concepts and provide the opportunity for students to develop a deep understanding for these subject areas.  Students are given opportunities to practice their skills and are given a great deal of feedback from their teachers in a timely manner in each of these areas.  Homework in these subjects will be to practice the skills learned during the class day.

In grades K – 2, a considerable amount of class time is spent on teacher directed activities in mathematics and reading instruction.  This time is focused on specific conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts and the development of reading skills.  Students spend time daily building their skills to develop a firm foundation for further learning.  Homework in these areas will be practicing skills learned during the school day, including practicing math concepts and reading regularly.

Grammar School Assessments

Covenant maintains a fairly consistent pattern in regards to assessments. Grammar classrooms often keep test days the same from assessment to assessment and communicate them via the WAS or newsletter.  Reviews for assessments will be provided during class time as well as homework prior to the test.

Logic and Rhetoric School Homework Guidelines

Grades 7-8 Grades 9-11 Grade 12  
Tier I Subjects – No Daily Homework
0 0 0 Bible, Theology, Philosophy / Logic, Rhetoric
0 0 0 Art, Theatre, Photography
Tier II Subjects – Occasional and Minimal Homework
0 10 10 History
0 10 10 Science
Tier III Subjects – Daily Homework
20 20 20 Mathematics
20 20 20 Latin or Greek
20 20 20 Literature
x x 20 Senior Thesis (* 0 minutes on nights prior to assessment)
Assessments
0-40 0-40 0-40 Studying for tests and quizzes (hist and Sci not same day)
Completing a project, lab report or composing a paper
Preparing for a class presentation
Totals
60-100 80-120 100-140 Minutes per day

Tier I Subjects

Bible, Theology, and Philosophy: Daily homework assignments are not given in these classes. No more than one major paper is assigned. All reading and the majority of writing occurs in the classroom, including opportunities for peer tutoring and direct feedback from the teacher. Students will prepare for occasional quizzes and memory work assignments (including memorizing lines for theatre) at home. No cumulative semester exam is given.

Tier II Subjects

History and Science: In both history and science classes, students engage in classroom discussions informed by short teacher lectures, demonstrations and in-class readings from the textbook. In grades 7-8, students compose answers to questions, complete exercises, and solve problems within class hours. In grades 9-12, students may spend some time at home finishing a set of answers, exercises or problem set. History and science teachers will coordinate scheduled assessments so that students do not need to prepare to take a test in both subject areas on the same day. Each science class assigns one formal lab report and each history class assigns one major paper per school year.

Courses in all Tier II subjects also include a cumulative exam at the end of each semester.

Tier III Subjects

Mathematics, Latin, and Greek: Students regularly spend class time learning through guided and collaborative problem solving and translation. Math and Latin teachers alike highlight, clarify, synthesize and summarize critical concepts, formulas, definitions, properties, theorems, and rules of syntax and grammar. In order for students to develop understanding and master skills in these two disciplines, it is necessary for them to regularly complete practice sets and compose translations of their own at home. In every classroom lesson, teachers devote time to address the variety of particular challenges and misunderstandings that individual students encounter in their homework the evening beforehand.

Literature: Much of class time is spent considering selected works through Socratic discussion driven by a small set of big ideas and essential questions. Preparing for these discussions requires students to complete reading assignments at home at a pace that allows the student to read closely and reflectively.

Senior Thesis: While Senior Thesis involves a substantial amount of research outside of the classroom, students are able to distribute their research hours throughout the fall semester. Students are also given many days in class to read, write, edit, and receive feedback from the Thesis Director. Students who use this time effectively will only need to complete a small amount of writing at home. Students also benefit from regular meetings with an assigned Thesis Advisor. The advisor is able to help the student identify and prioritize next steps in the writing process as well as hold the student accountable to meeting deadlines and managing their time well. As the final presentation date approaches, students will need to spend time preparing outside of class.

Courses in all Tier III subjects include a cumulative exam at the end of each semester.

Logic/Rhetoric Assessments

The Upper School faculty utilizes a test calendar that aligns assessments to ensure there are no more than two tests on a given school day. However, there are certain times, such as the end of a semester, in which there will be a cluster of tests that land in fairly close proximity. While there are efforts made to avoid an unreasonable expectation on the student, there are seasons in which the study time is more significant than others. Teachers understand these variables and sometimes make adjustments to the timing of their assessments.

Time Management

In the Logic/Rhetoric schools, students are responsible for budgeting their homework time and planning for their own family and church activities accordingly. Many Logic/Rhetoric School assignments spread over more than one night, so students will need to adjust their time accordingly. In some cases, time spent on a long-term project may exceed the nightly limit but should not exceed the weekly limit.

Parents who are convinced that their child is regularly exceeding the levels noted above should keep a record of time spent (actual diligent study time, not dawdling, daydreaming, etc.) for a two-week period and contact the classroom teacher. At that point, it can be determined if the student falls within the norm of the class, and if so, adjustments will be made.

If a student is below average in performance, every attempt will be made to offer study habit suggestions to improve efficiency. Homework will be reviewed to determine whether adjustments need to be made.

No homework will be given over the major school breaks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and Easter. In other words, no papers or projects will be due the day students return to school. Take-home tests will normally not be administered. Teachers may make rare exceptions, as is often the case with the Senior Thesis Project.