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Getting Rid of Homework to Encourage Being a Kid

After a long day in class and countless hours handling various school duties, you might wonder: "Is it okay to assign loads of homework to the kids every day? Should I give any homework at all?"

Unsurprisingly, in the US and elsewhere, the raging debate on the relevance of the traditional homework for elementary school continues unabated. So, how can parents let their kids be kids when they come home from school? What can teachers do to get rid of homework while nurturing productive learning?

It turns out there are quite a few ideas to do this.

Embrace Leisure Activities

Yes, teach your children, and yourself as a parent, to do less, less school-related stuff. Admittedly, it can feel scary trying to do this. But parents and caregivers need to provide what might be their kids' only shot at learning about togetherness and leisure. After all, many agree these are the only ingredients to your kids' overall well-being and happiness.

Alfie Kohn, author of the book "The Homework Myth," writes, "We must take the bull by the horn. We must give our kids the chance to be kids, to do things they really enjoy, this is especially the case since the children have already spent hours in school on a typical school day."

As a parent, what activities can you introduce? Kohn suggests that caregivers and parents can read or watch TV with their kids and discuss what they just watched or read. He says that these activities call for analytical skills and logic. They can help stimulate the kid's passions and uncover areas where they may lag behind and need help.

Try Storytelling

Encourage kids to tell you stories. Keep matters like grades or official due dates out of their minds. Then you'll discover something exciting - not only does this form of "homework" and storytelling inspire kids to make purposeful talking a practice, but it can also inspire them to start engaging in creative activities like writing.

And it can make the kids eager to put down their stories in a written format. Also, why not get some little finger puppets for the kids to use in acting out their stories? They'll love it!

Learn New Words

Rather than assign a list of spelling words for the kid to memorize or vocabulary words to use in sentences, try this alternative: Ask the kid to pick one new word (from what they hear) each week. They should then write it on an index card along with a definition they will submit on a Friday.

The student can get the target word from a conversation with you, a movie they recently watched, or a book they read. Actually, the sky's the limit. Set a time (sometimes between when the kid hears the word and when they turn it in). 

During this period, the student should look up the meaning in a dictionary to learn what it means. Alternatively, they can volunteer to share the new word with their classmates. You can choose a few words from the pile to share. Alternatively, teachers can assign students to create their own words and definitions in a special composition book.

Play Board Games

When Cherry Park Elementary in Oregon did away with homework, the administration always ensured the teachers gave students specific games to play at home together with their parents or other family members. The school discovered this was a fun way to bond with the family. They also realized that board games helped teach children the virtues of teamwork and patience.

Other teachers can try the same tactic. Print some board games for your kids to choose from. If the kids don't bring them back, print a new copy! Alternatively, you can send home blank game boards and encourage the children to develop their own games.

Try Free Reading

Is it surprising that free reading is fast gaining popularity as a viable alternative to the traditional homework arrangement? Not really! After discovering the merits of this alternative, many schools have banned homework altogether. 

Orchard School in Vermont, for example, is a public pre-K-5th grade elementary school. Here, teachers simply instruct learners to "read the right books every night."

Final Thought

Undoubtedly, there are numerous ways to get rid of homework and encourage childlike behavior while nurturing students' growth. Start small, and as you see the progress and benefits of getting rid of homework, you can expand your reach.

Written by John O. Ndar
Education World Contributor
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