Q&A with Ken Nysmith of Nysmith School in Herndon

We are excited to begin another wonderful academic year! We sat down with Ken Nysmith of the Nysmith School for Gifted and Talented children and picked his brain a little about homework. 

Ken NysmithDo you fine tune your program each year?

Ken Nysmith: We have been busy this summer, preparing the building and fine tuning our program.  We genuinely appreciate all the feedback that everyone provided to us on the surveys toward the end of last year.  We spend a lot of time looking at the survey results, analyzing where we could improve.  I am confident that you will see changes that we have implemented as school progresses.

What are your thoughts on homework?

KN: One of the keys to ensuring your child will be happy and challenged is to clearly communicate expectations.  When it comes to homework, we firmly believe that children should not have more than 10 minutes of homework per grade, 4-5 times a week.  So a third grader should not have more than 30 minutes of homework 4-5 times a week.  We urge parents to let us know if it is taking your child longer than the time we have allocated.  We really want every family to be able to balance outside interests and family time with academic requirements.

Do you recommend a good outside resource on the topic of homework?

KN: A great resource is Ann Dolin’s book Homework Made Simple.  Ann is the first speaker in the PTO Parent Education series this year on September 30th  and we urge our parents to attend.  She will speak about the best study strategies and how to start the school year strong.  After she speaks with parents, Ann will talk with 7th and 8th graders on the same topic. We try to offer every available resource to our families at our school and anyone can find Ann Dolin here as she is the owner of EC Tutoring right here in Fairfax. 

We struggle with homework time. How do you recommend we talk to our kids about homework?

KN: I urge every parent to spend a couple of minutes thinking how best to help your child develop the independence, organization, and study skills they will need to be successful in the future.  While we do not believe that children need a lot of homework and repetition, many high schools still do.  Our alumni consistently report that they are better prepared for the increased homework volume of the high schools because they were able to develop their time management skills and responsibility while they were at Nysmith. It comes down to teaching your kids time management skills and keeping an open door for communication between you, your child and their school. 

We are always sucked into do the homework with our kids. What do you recommend we do for homework time to allow our children to work independently?

KN: We ask that parents set up an area where a parent can observe their children doing their homework.  We ask that parents verify that students are not distracted and put forth their best effort working on their homework. I would encourage families to set up homework time early in the evening, if at all possible, so children have free time once their work is completed. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We are here to help you and your child.  We truly want your child to love school, and while we realize that homework may not be their favorite part of the day, building the responsibility in a happy and nurturing way during these early formative years will pay dividends for the rest of their lives.

About Nysmith:

Nysmith Private School for Gifted and Talented Education for Students. Preschool, Elementary Primary School and Middle School. Small class sizes and low 9:1 or less student to teacher ratios facilitate the diversified curriculum. By incorporating Daily Computers, Science, Math, Language Arts along with Logic, and Foreign Language, PE, Video Editing, Art and Music we are able to expand the children’s academic opportunities and make School Fun. By eliminating needless repetition and diversifying the academics, we are able to accelerate to meet each child’s academic level needs, while promoting their social wellness. Early academic nurturing promotes a love for learning and success in life. Come Tour and see what makes Nysmith School for the Gifted so Special.

Awarded by Johns Hopkins University 2015 CTY Search
Awarded by Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology 2014