Homework Guidelines

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.