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Research has repeatedly
demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, there is no benefit to homework at the
elementary school level. I'm talking close to 200 studies, conducted
over decades. Education researcher and author Alfie
Cohen writes, "No research has ever found a benefit to assigning homework
(of any kind or in any amount) in elementary school."
And, according to Dr. Harris Cooper, psychologist
and neuroscientist at Duke University and author of "The Battle Over Homework,"
there is no evidence that any amount of homework improves the academic
performance of elementary students. He has reviewed close to 180 research
studies on the topic.
schools today are piling more and more homework on young children.
was shocked by the sheer amount of homework my daughter brought home in
Kindergarten. Even more surprising was how much of it was busywork that offered no benefit to her.
up new skills quickly. She is a fast learner, something every teacher of
hers since preschool has noted. Once she has been properly introduced to a
concept, she is off and running. She does not require repetition. She needs the
next piece of the big picture so she can move forward.
students do require repetition, and the school curriculum revolves around it.
Meaning my child spends many of her school days practicing skills she has
already mastered. I am not about to make her do the same at home.
weeks into Kindergarten, I approached my daughter's teacher. I explained my
feelings on the homework and told her I would no longer be forcing my child to
do it. Because it had been a real battle. And it simply was not worth it.
agreed with me 100 percent. She felt the homework was of no benefit to my child in any
At the start of this school
year, my daughter's first-grade teacher explained during orientation that homework would be optional. She admitted she wouldn't even have time to look it over once
students turned it in. So I took the opportunity to respectfully let her know
we would be opting out.
I explained I would review
the packets to ensure I was up to date on what my daughter was working on in
class. And, if at any point my child should be struggling, we would do the homework
together so I might understand where she was having issues and provide help. Her
teacher was supportive of that plan.
My daughter has spent the
school year on the honor roll. Without doing homework.
I scan the weekly
homework packets, ask my daughter some questions about what she is learning and throw it in the recycle bin. Truly, 99 percent of it is busywork that offers no benefit
to my child. Every once in a while, there is a fun project (as opposed to worksheets), and
she does it. But mostly we enjoy family time and find other ways to enhance learning.
We love to do science
experiments, and play engineering, math and word games. My daughter researches,
writes and illustrates books about topics she loves. She reads independently,
we read together, and my husband and I take turns reading to our daughter each
We allow our child to learn
based on her interests and skill level—something she does not get at school. Her weekly
homework packet definitely does not offer it either.
We take family walks together
after dinner. Have dance parties. Tickle fights.
After nearly seven hours of
school, we allow our child to be a child. She participates in one extra
curricular activity of her choice. At the moment that is dance.
We meet her where she is,
demonstrate that we understand her needs and don't force homework down her
There are a lot of things wrong with our
education system today. If we simply go with the flow, nothing will change.
Parents across the country are pushing back against reforms that are damaging
our children. I'm proud to be part of that.
stands I have taken regarding education—pushing for a daily
recess mandate, refusing to do homework, planning to Opt Out of standardized tests—have had the strong support of teachers at my child's school. They regularly
contact me privately to share their gratitude.
see, they need parents to speak out.
To push for change. Because they can't, without fear of losing their jobs. When
we advocate for our children, we are also advocating for teachers, whose hands
have been tied behind their backs by recent reforms.
many cases, teachers are as miserable in the classroom as our children. They
are being forced to do things that go against everything they have learned and
understand about the learning needs of young children.
are also choosing to leave. When they do, they speak out
about the reasons why. Even
administrators are starting to object to the environment that has been
created in our schools.
To quote the beloved Dr. Seuss, "Unless someone
like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
believe homework in elementary school should be optional. If parents feel their
children benefit from it, they can participate. If a teacher feels a specific
student needs the extra work, she can recommend it.
there is nothing wrong with actually listening to the research and making a
choice you feel is best for your child. You have a right to say no. There
are other ways to stay connected to what your child is doing in school.
And there are actual, proven benefits to spending time together as a family.