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on teacher-created tests and grades. But no proof supports assignments, place limits on homework and even abolish
the misperception that homework helps with such long-term homework-heavy advanced placement classes. And, parents
educational goals as creating life-long learners who are cre- are banding together to make sure that their children get
ative and analytical thinkers. recess and some time at the end of the school day to just be
Many short-term education goals aren’t strengthened children.
by homework either. Consider the time-honored tradition
Sara Bennett is the co-author of The Case Against Home-
of weekly word study for a spelling test. As early as the late
work: How Homework Is Hurting Children and What Parents
19th century, research has found no link between the time
Can Do About It and the founder of Stop Homework, a
spent on drills and student performance. That’s why, as so
not-for-profi t project dedicated to advocating for homework
many teachers and parents know fi rst-hand, students who
reform. To fi nd out more about what parents and schools are
can spell a new word on Friday won’t be able to incorporate
doing, visit StopHomework.com.
it into their writing, or even remember how to spell it, the
following Monday.
Similarly, endless math problems serve no educational
How to Tame
purpose. According to the U.S. Department of Education,
Monstrous Homework
children can demonstrate mastery in just fi ve problems. If
by Sara Bennett
they can’t, they need more guidance from the teacher, not
more and more problems they can’t solve. • Focus on what’s important for your children. If you
Further, homework’s most lauded benefi ts—developing want them to have unstructured time to dream and fi nd
responsibility, self-discipline and motivation—have never their interests, make sure that happens.
been formally researched.
• Don’t worry about their getting all A’s in school. Don’t
Unfortunately, homework takes up time that could be
worry so much about their grades.
spent in ways that better contribute to a child’s overall health,
well-being, and intellectual development. For example,
• Make sure they get plenty of sleep.
young children—and teens, too—need plenty of time to play.
• If your children are spending too much time on
That’s how they make sense of the world and their place in it.
homework, or it's causing too much family confl ict, let
Play is at such a premium these days that the American
your children do something else and write a brief note
Academy of Pediatrics has lamented the current trend of
to the teacher.
eliminating recess in elementary school. Its January 2009 re-
port found that when students get 15 minutes of recess, their
• Let your children read whatever they want. Their
in-class behavior and performance improve dramatically.
vocabulary, writing, spelling and analytical skills will
Homework is also the number one reason why reading
improve much more if they read voraciously than if they
for pleasure declines at age 8, according to a 2006 Scholas-
spend that same time on vocabulary and spelling sheets.
tic/Yankelovich poll. Yet reading, educators agree, is the most
• Talk to other parents about the homework problem
important intellectual activity of all. That’s how students learn
and then talk to the school.
to spell, write, analyze, and gather background knowledge
that helps them develop into critical thinkers.
The National Endowment for the Arts also has found that
“Reading is an important indicator of positive individual and
social behavior patterns.” According to its research, readers
If you are seeking creative ideas,
volunteer, attend arts and sports events, do outdoor activities
go out walking.
and exercise at higher rates than non-readers.
Other casualties of homework overload include socializ-
Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
ing with family and friends, family dinners, exercise, out-
–Raymond Inmon
door activities and sleep—all important facets of a balanced
childhood and adulthood. Indeed, according to a 2001 study
by the University of Michigan, family meals are the single
strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer
behavioral problems for children ages three to twelve. John
Medina writes in Brain Rules that sleep deprivation, a bane of
many school-aged children, affects children’s overall mood,
as well as their ability to pay attention and use abstract think- & Holistic Center
ing skills.
Across the country, parents and schools are beginning
8080A Ortonville Road, Clarkston, Michigan 48348
to seek solutions. A principal in Wyoming who abolished
248-625-5192 • www.PeaceUnityChurch.org
homework at her elementary school in the fall of 2007,
A Center for prayer, peace studies and healing lives.
said, “Not having homework isn’t hurting. Our test scores
Practitioners, Educators, Participants and Students Desired.
continue to rise.” High schools are beginning to coordinate
Call for information.
www.MichiganHealthyLiving.com
April 2009
33
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