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Letters From Listeners

Homework, Busy Work: What's the Difference?

Dr. Laura:

My kid is only in the first grade, but after going through kindergarten, I made the decision to limit what/when homework is done. WHY? I'll tell you:

1. My kid and I read together and she likes to learn by doing, so, we do things together at home; We go to the library, there is no TV in her room, and I let her get the mail so she can read some of the magazines, words on the letters, read street signs, etc.

2. Since she has expressed she is sometimes bored at school, I know that having her do the same boring stuff for homework will only worsen her boredom and I don't want her to become bored with learning, so, as an adult mom, I say, enough is enough;

3. As an 'educated' mother (BS, MA), I know a lot of the 'education' is bunk, meaningless, etc. so, I try to focus on concepts, and in this way, I supplement her education and focus it where I think it needs to be focused, age appropriate, of course;

4. When my kid went to kindergarten, she was already on a first/end of second grade level. I quickly corrected those who would say, "Oh, you're smart. Your teachers have taught you a lot." To which I would say, "You're right-her mom and dad are her eternal teachers and she learned this/that BEFORE going to kindergarten."

5. Finally, I allow her to just have down time (she likes to watch cartoons and she is still very silly (not jaded at all compared to lots of other kids). We cook together, discuss topics on shows like yours, Dennis Prager, Dave Ramsey, Christian and talk radio, etc. I want her to understand and learn that 'school is not the same thing as educated' but that learning is a life-long journey and there's lot to learn, BUT, one has to be able to make priorities, know what's important, and be able to tackle concepts, constructions, ideas, while developing and maintaining memories, friends, families, etc. Basically, I try to teach my kid that balance in life is important-there's a time to work, time to play, time to laugh, cry, learn, and yes, zone-out.

In saying all this (and not to brag at all), most of her friends and family members (her age and older) are 'amazed' at how much she is able to do and that I allow her to do/say/be/think, all the while noting that she STILL has an air of innocence, kid-like, appropriate, silliness, playfulness, love, trust, etc. Oh, by the way, she is also strong-willed, hard-headed, eager, clumsy, sloppy, too!


Tags: Education, Homework, Kindergarten, Parenting, Teaching
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