Could education outcomes be improved with less homework?
Does it ever feel like the homework assignments take over your whole evening and sometimes your weekend? Does it sometimes seem like the assignments are just too many? I recently told a principal that if I had to complete all the homework assignments one of my children had, it would take me 2-3 hours to complete all the assignments.
I understand how to complete the homework assignments, but it takes so long every evening to complete the assignments because my children are tired of sitting still and focusing on assignments all day. I support teachers and we all want children to succeed in school, is it possible there could be better ways to achieve education goals?
This is just me wondering, if children are in school 6-7 hours a day 5 days a week (that’s 30-35 hours of instruction time), why do they also need to spend 1-2 hours or more every night on homework? Could all this homework actually cause less attention in the classroom because children don’t get time to “be kids” and just have fun time?
I do not oppose all homework, but if homework is going to be assigned I want to know a clear education outcome. For example, studying for tests and quizzes and memorizing facts and formulas needed to complete assignments are useful assignments and show a clear benefit.
10 Activities Better For Children than Homework
- Playing outside. This is a classic. All children need time to play outside. Fresh air and sunshine are important for children (and adults too). Children need to move; they need to be active. As I noted above, school age children spend 30-35 hours a week in class – sitting still. Let’s get them moving.
- Organized team sports. Playing sports helps education in many ways. One overlooked way team sports help education is the coordination skills gained from sports improves overall brain function. Sports build fine motor skills that translate into the classroom. Additionally, organized team sports helps children learn to work together to accomplish a goal in a fun setting.
- Individual sports. As with team sports, individual sports also build coordination and motor skills that translate into skills in the classroom. With individual sports, your child also focuses more on refining their individual talent.
- Learning to love reading. Free reading. Reading books you want to read. As soon as the book is assigned as a book report, it’s no longer fun to read it (even your favorite book). Children need to be encouraged and given quiet time to develop a love for reading. Knowledge gained from reading enhances all education outcomes.
- Reading aloud. It’s fun to read books aloud together. I need to get back to reading aloud with my children more. I would like to read some of the great books with them. My oldest likes to read Shakespeare. It’s a great way to encourage reading.
- Studying and observing nature. Children can learn so much by just observing science in action. What can you learn from ants? They are hard workers and determined. What about observing the sky and the stars? What did God put in the vast heavens?
- Visiting historic landmarks and understanding events from history. Many historic landmarks are well preserved or have replicas to help us understand events. Visit these parks and landmarks with your children and help them understand important events in American history.
- Family time and traditions. I remember as a child we frequently visited the ice cream shoppe for a treat (maybe after church on Sunday night or for special occasions). It was a special memory and tradition of something we did as a family. Even small traditions like going to the ice cream shoppe will stay with children when they grow up. Be sure to have special family memories and build family relationships.
- Time with grandparents and learning from their life experiences. Life teaches us many things. I remember my grandmother told me many stories of life during the depression and World War II. It’s important to hear these first-hand accounts and learn from those who experienced history.
- More free/unstructured play time (but not with electronic games). Playing board games that build relationships within the family like family game night or building Legos and other structured toys that require thinking, creativity, and fine motor skills.
Homework is not the enemy, but homework needs to have a limited place and focus. Children need more time for other activities that could enhance classroom learning by allowing them to learn naturally out of the classroom and focus better in the classroom improving education outcomes.
What activities does your child enjoy that improves their education?