Alternatives to Homework

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="200"]The Joys Of Homework The Joys of Homework
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This week I read an interesting blog post called "Why do we torment kids with homework?" which had me reflecting on my own personal experiences with homework as a student and teacher.  Homework has become a very divisive topic with parents, teachers and school boards.  There has been a tremendous amount of research done on the effects of homework which suggests that for our youngest students there is no connection to improving learning.

Today I am not going to write about my personal philosophy of homework but rather provide some alternatives to traditional homework.  Activities that parents and their children can do together or that students can do on their own that will not only provide learning benefits but will be of interest to children.

Play sports or games as a family - what better way to stay health and learn the importance of teamwork than to play sports with your family.  Enjoy the outdoors and participate in a game of touch football, basketball, soccer or baseball.   Families could play on their own or invite neighbours and friends to join in the fun.

Play board games as a family - there are plenty of board games on the market today that are not only fun but educational too.  Schedule one night a week to play your favourite games with your family.  Educational board games improve logic and reasoning skills, basic literacy and numeracy skills, social skills and fair play.  Scrabble junior, boggle junior, monopoloy junior, chess and connect 4 are just a few.  Visit your local children's toy store or game store for the latest and greatest.

Family day trips and outings - with a bit of research I'm sure you could find places of historical significance within a short drive of where you live.  You could also take your family on trips to museums, art galleries or landmarks.

Volunteer - what better way to demonstrate to your children the importance of helping the less fortunate than to volunteer in the community.  Volunteering at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, food bank or local senior centre will not only help support those in need but instill the importance of public service in your children.

Take in Nature  -  find interesting local nature centres, parks or landmarks that your family can enjoy.  Often these locations have literature that discusses the importance of the area and hiking paths to follow.  Another great way to learn about your community and stay healthy.  Contact your local tourism centre or parks commission to get suggestions.

Read - I can't stress enough the importance of  reading for pleasure.  Encourage your child to read nightly whenever they want - right after dinner, before bed or when they get home.  Read aloud to your children too!  Jim Trelease's book "The Read-Aloud Handbook" is a must read for every teacher and parent.  It gives amazing stories about the power of reading aloud to your kids and practical advice of how you can incorporate it as your children age.

Music - find a musical instrument that your child is interested in playing.  There are many studies that show the positive impact music plays in academic achievement.   Although this option can be costly the benefits are worth it.

This by no means is an exhaustive list for homework alternatives.  I would love to hear any other ideas or thoughts.

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