- Bringing Project Based Learning to our Classroom - August 12, 2018
- Keep the Engagement Alive: Start the Year with Purpose - August 5, 2018
- It's Our Fault: A Teacher's Confession - March 18, 2018
- Keeping Your Teaching Real: A Teacher's Role - March 11, 2018
- Sketch Notes in the Elementary Classroom - February 15, 2017
- Teach From the Heart - February 9, 2017
- Who is the Teacher: School or Family? - January 11, 2017
- Dear President Elect Trump, From Your Teachers - November 17, 2016
- Let them Be Children - October 21, 2016
- Print Resources: Great Tools for Kids - October 17, 2016
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As an elementary teacher and parent of three, I am not a believer in homework. I am, however, a huge believer in learning. I am a huge believer in doing things WITH your children. I am a huge believer in conversation and dialog. I am a huge believer in play. Children learn though activity, discussion, and play. These are the things that should be done at home. There are the things that help your children learn.
I have had too many parents tell me tales of homework woes. Tears, refusal, hours sitting in deadlock at the kitchen table, frustration, pain. Parenting today is difficult. We are running kids to dance lessons, music lessons, and sports practices. We need to grocery shop, do laundry, work out, and take care of our responsibilities at work. Education has changed. Learning has changed. It’s not the method or the homework we brought home as kids. What can parents do to help?
Use Technology—Link in to where our kids are, technology. Here are some of my favorite web sites and apps that engage kids in learning. They cover many subject areas and grade levels. They can be played independently, but you might also find if you start playing you will have fun too! I believe 10 minutes per grade level is more than sufficient so a kindergartener or first grader may spend 10 minutes a night practicing skills while a third grader would spend 30 minutes. Families are busy today. Using websites and apps increased kids’ interest in spending time on educational tasks and puts kids in charge of their own learning. You can use devices at home, at the library, or at an after-school program if you set parameters and give students a list of where to go.
- Slice It
- Draw Something
- PBS Kids
- Word Ring
- Hungry Fish
- Tangrams (many versions available)
- Math Squared
- Pingus Quest
- iTrack Wildlife
- Math Playground
- Into the Book
- PBS Kids
- International Children's Library
- Story Telling Alice
Learn With Them--Education has changed. The math I teach my fourth graders looks different from the math I learned in school. My eighth grader brings home assignments that I struggle to help him through. If your student brings traditional “homework” there are some resources you may find helpful online.
Ask for Help—Today much of the learning in the classroom is hands on. Kids are playing games, doing experiments, and learning through play. Check out these links and then ask your teacher for more ideas, directions, and games you can use at home to reinforce and practice skills from the classroom.
Play and Have Fun--Playing is fun but also engages kids to increase learning. There are some simple things you can do at home to practice skills at home. Board games are great learning tools. You can also get out a deck of cards and play War. You can put a simple twist on the game by flipping over two cards and adding, subtracting, or multiplying the numbers to practice facts. Spelling and letter practice can become fun with a twist on the materials you use. Pour powdered Jell-O or pudding into a cake pan and have your child use their finger to write letters and words. Smooth over to “erase” the slate each time. Use crayons to write on foil. Rainbow write by writing the word in pencil and then tracing over the word with crayons in rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple). Increasing interest increases learning so be creative and have fun!
Ask Questions—Most elementary students bring home books to read each night. Often times the same book comes home multiple nights. When children struggle with words ask them questions to help them think through the word and problem solve. If it is a word that is common ask them to look for parts of the word they know. Is there a chunk you recognize? Have you seen a word like this before? What would make sense here? If the word is probably new to them or not in their vocabulary, tell them the word, discuss what it means, and move on.
The goal of reading is comprehension, so ask questions after reading. This is especially good for the second night a book comes home. Great questions for fiction stories include: What can you tell me about the story? What can you tell me about the character? Would you be friends with them? How do you feel about the decision the character made? Would you have acted the same way? What can you tell me about the setting? Would you like to go there? What was the problem in the story? How did the characters handle the problem? Would you have handled it the same way? And why or why not are always great to get kids talking more.
Great questions for non-fiction stories include: What did you learn from this book? What surprised you? What other books have your read about this topic? How were those books the same as this book? How were they different? What else do you still want to know? What was the most important fact in the book? Discussing stories is an important part of reading. Have fun learning with your child.
What is the purpose of homework? I want my students to get their hands into what we are discussing, continue talking about school at home, and play while learning. Technology, games, and questions will bring the classroom into your home to give you a peek into your kids learning. Participate in your kids homework to add fun and learning for both of you.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]