If you’re a student, the words “no homework” sound like music to your ears. And, with all of the sports, art classes, and zillions of other activities that parents schlep kids to each week, “no homework” can sound like a relief to parents as well. Furthermore, studies by researchers at Duke University found that homework, particularly for elementary school-aged kids, is ineffective. So, this sounds like “no homework” FTW, right?
Well…maybe not. A friend of mine recently posted about her son’s school shifting to a no-homework policy this year. She’s worried about coming up with math problems to do in the car with her son, teaching him about astronomy after dinner, and helping him practice study skills that she knows he’ll need as the years go by.
I enjoy looking at the stars with my kids as much as anyone. But, as a working parent—and a teacher no less!— the thought of explaining the complexities of the galaxy to my 9 and 4-year-old kids after a long day of work and school makes me want to run to the TV and turn on a Neil DeGrasse Tyson show. He clearly knows a lot more about the stars than I do, and then I can go make lunches for the next day. I get it, though, the sentiment in policies like this is solid, and it’s backed by research. If homework, in the traditional sense, doesn’t help kids, then it does not make sense to assign it.
But here’s the thing: shifting the heavy lifting of creating homework assignments from teachers to parents doesn’t do the trick either. So, while it’s true that traditional worksheets are not supportive to a child’s education, there’s still a solution: reading.
A number of schools that have, formally or informally, stopped assigning traditional homework, recommend that their students read a just-right book for a minimum of 20-30 minutes each night.
What’s a just-right book? It’s one that a child can decode (truly be able to read the words) and comprehend (understand the story). For independent reading, which is what we want our kids to do at home each night, they should be able to decode and comprehend the book on their own, without support from others. Many teachers guide students through the process of determining what books are just-right for them. Our poster is a great resource that walks parents and kids through that selection process. It’s easy to print at home and put next to your child’s bookshelf as a reminder for how to choose a just-right book.
The other key element to choosing a just-right book is the curation, which we handle at Bear and Bud. Helping kids find books they’re excited to read is the easiest way to foster a love of reading, even if they only want to read graphic novels or the same series they’ve read a million times. It’s okay to let kids read what they want (as long as it’s just-right). I still recommend that parents encourage kids to try new genres and explore new authors, but it’s possible to do this in a playful way. You can introduce this idea as a cool challenge, like we did with 2 of our FREE Printables: Where We Read Challenge and Reading Challenge Checklist or with one of our quarterly subscription book activity boxes.
Wondering what else you can do to support kids when they don’t have homework? Here are some of my quick tips:
Has your child’s school cut back on homework? Let us know how it’s going!