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Research Finds The Effects Of Homework On Elementary School Students, And The Results Are Surprising

Research Finds The Effects Of Homework On Elementary School Students, And The Results Are Surprising

After over 25 years of studying and analyzing homework, Harris Coopers’ research demonstrates a clear conclusion: homework wrecks elementary school students. In his book, The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents, the homework guru gives details about the relationship between homework and success at different grade levels. While homework has a significant benefit at the high school level, the benefit drops off for middle school students and “there’s no benefit at the elementary school level,” agrees Etta Kralovec, an education professor at the University of Arizona.

Why teachers shouldn’t assign homework to elementary school students

According to research, there are a number of reasons why teachers shouldn’t assign homework to elementary school students:

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  1. Homework can generate a negative impact on children’s attitudes toward school. Children who are just beginning at school have so many years ahead of them. The last thing teachers should do is to turn them against school. Instead, young kids should have fun while learning.
  1. Premature homework can damage personal relationships in the long term. While homework is meant to reinforce the relationship between parents and children and get parents involved in their children’s education, with elementary school kids this can have the opposite effect. At that age, children need to be reminded by their parents about their homework. After a long day at school, something that includes the word “work” is not exactly what kids want to do before going to bed. This ends up too often in a sorrowful battle that can be extended to the later years when homework does have benefits.
  1. Homework gives a false sense of responsibility. Those who support homework will say that daily homework helps kids become more responsible, but this is only true at a later age. When parents have to remind their kids to do their homework every night, this purpose completely fades away.
  1. Homework leaves less time for kids to be kids. According to the information gathered by Open Colleges and presented in their article The Tyranny of Homework: 20 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Assign Homework Over The Holidays, many kids don’t get enough exercise. All students, and especially the youngest ones, should use their evenings and holiday time to do more physical activities, playing outdoors and participating in sports with friends. Both teachers and parents can encourage children to do these kinds of activities more often.
  1. Kids need to rest to be productive in school. Another problem with elementary school homework is that it often takes time away from their sleeping hours. Children need, on average, ten hours of sleep a day. For kids to be 100% the next day at school, they need to have a proper rest.

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    Alternatives to homework for young students

    As an alternative to overloading young students with homework, there are so many things that teachers and parents can do to make sure that students are motivated and open to learning more:

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    1. To encourage fun reading. According to research, at the elementary level what works way better than homework is reading. Parents and teachers may find subjects that kids are interested in and either stimulate them to read themselves or read out loud and let them listen. Although personalizing this activity for each kid will require more effort than homogeneous homework, the benefits of fun reading will be noticeable.
    1. Teach responsibility with daily chores. Instead of relying on homework to develop a kid’s sense of responsibility, there are so many everyday habits that can teach them to be responsible, such as getting up and ready in the morning, making the bed, helping out with chores, or even looking after a pet.
    1. Teach them that they are always learners. Elementary school students are continuously learning, so when parents and teachers make sure that children understand this concept, doing homework to learn more becomes secondary.
    1. Take them to visit a museum. So much can be learnt in a science or art exhibition. More importantly, the knowledge and experience acquired in this kind of field cannot be learnt in any other way. Parents might look for upcoming exhibitions or activities that will awaken their children’s interest.

    Overall, administrators, parents, and teachers may leverage after-school experiences where creativity, sociability, and learning converge to enhance elementary schools students’ educations.

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    Published on February 11, 2021

    3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

    3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

    I’m old enough to remember how the cane at school was used for punishment. My dad is old enough to think that banning corporal punishment in schools resulted in today’s poorly disciplined youth. With all of this as my early experiences, there was a time when I would have been better assigned to write about how to negatively discipline your child.

    What changed? Thankfully, my wife showed me different approaches for discipline that were very positive. Plus, I was open to learning.

    What has not changed is that kids are full of problems with impulses and emotions that flip from sad to happy, then angry in a moment. Though we’re not that different as adults with stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and stimulants such as sugar and caffeine in our diets.

    Punishment as Discipline?

    What this means is that we usually take the easy path when a child misbehaves and punish them. Punishment may solve an isolated problem, but it’s not really teaching the kids anything useful in the long term.

    Probably it’s time for me to be clear about what I mean by punishment and discipline as these terms are often used interchangeably, but they are quite different.

    Discipline VS. Punishment

    Punishment is where we inflict pain or suffering on our child as a penalty. Discipline means to teach. They’re quite the opposite, but you’ll notice that teachers, parents, and coaches often confuse the two words.

    So, as parents, we have to have clear goals to teach our kids. It’s a long-term plan—using strategies that will have the longest-lasting impact on our kids are the best use of our time and energy.

    If you’re clear about what you want to achieve, then it becomes easier to find the best strategy. The better we are at responding when our kids misbehave or do not follow our guidance, the better the results are going to be.

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    3 Positive Discipline Strategies for Your Child

    Stay with me as I appreciate that a lot of people who read these blogs do not always have children with impulse control. We’ve had a lot of kids in our martial arts classes that were the complete opposite. They had concentration issues, hyperactive, and disruptive to the other children.

    The easy solution is to punish their parents by removing the kids from the class or punish the child with penalties such as time outs and burpees. Yes, it was tempting to do all of this, but one of our club values is that we pull you up rather than push you down.

    This means it’s a long-term gain to build trust and confidence, which is destroyed by constant punishments.

    Here are the discipline strategies we used to build trust and confidence with these hyperactive kids.

    1. Patience

    The first positive discipline strategy is to simply be patient. The more patient you are, the more likely you are to get results. Remember I said that we need to build trust and connection. You’ll get further with this goal using patience.

    As a coach, sometimes I was not the best person for this role, but we had other coaches in the club that could step in here. As a parent, you may not have this luxury, so it’s really important to recognize any improvements that you see and celebrate them.

    2. Redirection

    The second strategy we use is redirection. It’s important with a redirection to take “no” out of the equation. Choices are a great alternative.

    Imagine a scenario where you’re in a restaurant and your kid is wailing. The hard part here is getting your child to stop screaming long enough for you to build a connection. Most parents have calming strategies and if you practice them with your child, they are more likely to be effective.

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    In the first moment of calm, you can say “Your choice to scream and cry in public is not a good one. It would be best to say, Dad. What can I do to get ice-cream?” You can replace this with an appropriate option.

    The challenge with being calm and redirecting is that we need to be clear-minded, focused, and really engaged at the moment. If you’re on your phone, talking with friends or family, thinking about work or the bills, you’ll miss this opportunity to discipline in a way that has long-term benefits.

    3. Repair and Ground Rules

    The third positive discipline strategy is to repair and use ground rules. Once you’ve given the better option and it has been taken, you have a chance to repair this behavior to lessen its occurrence to better yet, prevent it from happening again. And by setting appropriate ground rules, you can make this a long-term win by helping your child improve their behavior.

    It’s these ground rules that help you correct the poor choices of your child and direct the behavior that you want to see.

    Consequences Versus Ultimatums

    When I was a child and being punished. My parents worked in a busy business for long hours, so their default was to go to ultimatums. “Do that again and you’re grounded for a week,” or “If I catch you doing X, you’ll go to bed without dinner”.

    Looking back, this worked to a point. But the flip side is that I remembered more of the ultimatums than the happier times. I’ve learned through trial and error with my own kids that consequences are more effective while not breaking down trust.

    What to Do When Ground Rules Get Broken?

    It’s on the consequences that you use when the ground rules are broken.

    In the martial arts class, when the hyperactive student breaks the ground rules. They would miss a turn in a game or go to the back of the line in a queue. We do not want to shame the child by isolating them. But on the flip side, there should be clear ground rules and proportionate consequences.

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    Yes, there are times when we would like to exclude the student from the class, the club, and even the universe. Again, it’s here that patience is so important and probably impulse control too. With an attainable consequence, you can maintain trust and you’re more likely to get the long-term behavior that you’re looking to achieve.

    Interestingly, we would occasionally hear a strategy from parents that little Kevin has been misbehaving at home with his sister or something similar. He likes martial arts training, so the parent would react by removing Kevin from the martial arts class as a punishment.

    We would suggest that this would remove Kevin from an environment where he is behaving positively. Removing him from this is likely to be detrimental to the change you would like to see. He may even feel shame when he returns to the class and loses all the progress he’s made.

    Alternatives to Punishment

    Another option is to tell Kevin to write a letter to his sister, apologizing for his behavior, and explaining how he is going to behave in the future.

    If your child is too young to write, give the apology face to face. For the apology to feel sincere, there is some value to pre-framing or practicing this between yourself and your child before they give it to the intended person.

    Don’t expect them to know the ground rules or what you’re thinking! It will be clearer to your child and better received with some practice. You can practice along the lines of: “X is the behavior I did, Y is what I should have done, and Z is my promise to you for how I’m going to act in the future.” You can replace XYZ with the appropriate actions.

    It does not need to be a letter or in person, it can even be a video. But there has to be an intention to repair the broken ground rule. If you try these strategies, that is become fully engaged with them and you’re still getting nowhere.

    But what to do if these strategies do not work? Then there is plenty to gain by seeking the help of an expert. Chances are that something is interfering or limiting their development.

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    This does not mean that your child has a neurological deficiency, although this may be the root cause. But it means that you can get an objective view and help on how to create the changes that you would like to see. Remember that using positive discipline strategies is better than mere punishment.

    There are groups that you can chat with for help. Family Lives UK has the aim of ensuring that all parents have somewhere to turn before they reached a crisis point. The NSPCC also provides a useful guide to positive parenting that you can download.[1]

    Bottom Line

    So, there your go, the three takeaways on strategies you can use for positively disciplining your child. The first one is about you! Be patient, be present, and think about what is best for the long term. AKA, avoid ultimatums and punishment. The second is to use a redirect, then repair and repeat (ground rules) as your 3-step method of discipline.

    Using these positive discipline strategies require you to be fully engaged with your child. Again, being impulsive breaks trust and you lose some of the gains you’ve both worked hard to achieve.

    Lastly, consequences are better than punishment. Plus, avoid shaming, especially in public at all costs.

    I hope this blog has been useful, and remember that you should be more focused on repairing bad behavior because being proactive and encouraging good behavior with rewards, fun, and positive emotions takes less effort than repairing the bad.

    More Tips on How To Discipline Your Child

    Featured photo credit: Leo Rivas via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] NSPCC Learning: Positive parenting

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