Is homework an ‘authentic’ source of learning for our children?
Once your kids have started school, it’s the beginning of a long and often tumultuous relationship with the school. Therefore, it’s really important to develop a positive relationship between your kids and their education. After all, the prospect of battling your kids with regards to their homework for the next 12 years sounds exhausting.
‘The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination’. -Albert Einstein
It’s not ‘homework’ that I question, it’s the type of work that my kids are bringing home. If they haven’t learnt it in the 6 hours they have already spent in school then what does homework actually achieve? Kids are already tired from school and busy with extracurricular activities so homework can in effect become counter-productive. Also, they perceive learning as a burden instead of the opportunity to gain knowledge and feed their imagination.
‘Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.’ -Anton Chekhov
School is a time where your kids are exposed to academic and socialization processes which could shape their character heading into adulthood. In conjunction with their school life, parents are also instrumental in aiding their development. Below are some ideas which are an alternative to the traditionally school assigned homework. Hopefully, they may help to engage your kids as active and not passive learners.
‘Continuous effort- not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.’ -Winston Churchill
1. Learning to read for enjoyment opens the door to unlimited knowledge. Reading works on your kids fluency, vocabulary, introduces new concepts and invites interesting discussions on all manner of topics. Reading together or creating your own ‘family book club’ could provide your kids with a positive learning opportunity and quality family time.
2. Choose a subject that interests your kids and find fun interactive activities. My eldest has an interest in science and loves doing little experiments. During the week he researches a book I picked up called ‘730 Easy Science Experiments’. At the weekends we choose two experiments to do together. Once completed, we discuss and consolidate what he has just learnt. Educational for both child and parent!
3. Don’t underestimate ‘child’s play’. Play teaches kids how to negotiate challenging physical environments and to develop interpersonal skills with playmates. Allowing them to ‘play in the dirt’ or with other messy materials, exposes them to different sensory experiences which are vital to a child’s development. In effect, forcing your kid to sit and study instead of allowing them to play outside could be more detrimental than beneficial to their development.
4. Learning through ‘doing’ is something all kids can do with their parents. By allowing your kids to help with tasks like preparing dinner, this could be a very ‘organic’ learning environment. During this time, you could teach your kids about food preparation, nutrition or use the time to ‘discuss’ other topics. This opens the line of communication between kids and parents after an often long and tiring day.
5. Another idea is to undertake a ‘personal project’. Such a project could encourage them to become independent learners and develop their skills in sourcing information. An example of a popular project, is to plant a little garden patch. With the use of the internet or the local garden centre, encourage your kids to research the processes and science needed to establish a successful garden patch. Another one I read about was a film project where the child created his own skateboard video by choreographing different moves and tricks at the local skate park with his friends. The choices are limitless!
6. Sometimes we create a small and protective world for our kids. It’s instinctive to protect them which consequently creates a fairly narrow world for them to experience. Developing your child’s empathy and social awareness is vital in educating them to become well-rounded people. Be selective and research a positive community based organisation where they could volunteer for a couple of hours a week. Even visiting senior citizens to chat with could be a very positive experience. Learning to be a good listener is a priceless skill which can open the door to greater knowledge of the world.
If you are interested in shaking up your kids homework then try visiting: Why I’m Quitting Homework (And What I’m Doing Instead), 10 Reasons to Get Rid of Homework (And 5 Alternatives), 31 Things Your Kids Should Be Doing Instead of Homework
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