Homework

Why Traditional Homework Doesn't Work... and How to Fix it.

In 1995 Betty Hart and Todd Risley conducted a study which revealed a language gap that exists between families of different incomes, and shed light on a disparity of parent/child interactions that follow children through their lifetime. It seems the greatest gift that parents can give their children is free and readily available: quality and substantive interaction.

 
In four years, an average child in a professional family would accumulate experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family 13 million words.
— The Early Catastrophe: Hart and Risley
 

Dana Suskind of the Thirty Million Words Initiative and author of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child's Brain explains: "Why is the effect of parent talk so profound? Because its results are not only predictive of academic success in general, but on reaching potentials in math, spatial reasoning, and literacy, the ability to self-regulate behavior, reaction to stress, and even perseverance."

Other studies have also shown that time children spend with parents engaged in positive, quality experiences have great benefits upon their future success. Things like family meal times, emotional involvement, and one-on-one interactions are proven means for student success. Studies have also shown that children need time for both unstructured play, and family game time, during which children build academic skills at the same time that family relationships and communication skills are strengthened.

Although the research is clear in describing the elements that will build children who are strong both academically and emotionally, the actuality of modern life seem to run increasingly contrary to what is best. Parents are busy with demanding jobs and schedules and children are involved in activities that are mostly passive (such as television shows and video/tablet games). While these activities have benefits, they are input activities, which do not generally require the unpredictable demands of interpersonal interactions. In other words, a game or television show is much easier to predict than a person, and far less demanding.

Fortunately, a 2015 study shows that it is not the amount of time that parents spend with their children that makes the difference, but the quality of the activities that occur during that time. Apparently, if we use the time we have with our children wisely, we can achieve great things.

Is it any wonder then, that homework has become a source of debate for both parents and teachers? With our time so limited, and so important, every activity counts, and that's where traditional homework fails. A worksheet of practice activities sent home only for the purpose of fulfilling an obligation of daily homework just isn't going to cut it.

There is compelling argument for doing away with homework altogether, especially in the younger grades, but I would argue for something more moderate. After all, homework can serve as a bridge between teacher and parent, a method of communication that can inform families about classroom academics, children's abilities, and teacher goals. Additionally, when teachers build homework that fits the oral and cognitive needs of children, it can become a tool for parents to use to help them have quality interactions with their children.

I've stopped thinking of homework as extra practice that students take home. Instead, I treat homework as my way of sharing activities that provide families with tools they can use to have quality time together. Instead of sending home a vocabulary page, I send home an activity where students talk to their parents. Instead of sending home a page of math facts to practice, I send home a math game that children can play with their siblings and parents. I ask children to practice reading skills with their parents, and I send them home with a paper book to practice with. I try to make my homework about playing, cooking, painting, making, building, sharing, experimenting, and experiencing; the time that familys have together is valuable, and I want to respect that. I also respect time by sending home my activities as a monthly packet, instead of daily or weekly. That way, parents can use the activities in a way that fits their needs and individual schedules.

The response from parents to this homework has been incredible. They enjoy the time they spend with their children, and their children enjoy the time they spend at home learning and practicing skills. When we use homework in a way that respects parents and their important role as the primary teacher of their children, we are using it in a way that is powerful for student achievement and empowering for families.

So maybe it's time to rethink our goals for homework, and what we're really trying to accomplish by sending it home. My goal is to add to family life, not to take away from it, and to give parents access to materials that help make the most of their time. I hope that's your goal too.

If you would like to see exactly what I mean, here are three homework packets at different levels, designed to teach important skills for March. They are on SALE until the end of March.


Looking For Flexible Play-Based Homework?

Our homework comes in three levels: Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade. They can also be used as Below Benchmark, At Benchmark, or Above Benchmark for any of the above named grade levels.

Preschool homework.jpeg
kindergarten homework.jpeg
first grade homework.jpeg

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Developmentally Appropriate, Family Friendly Homework

For more than two decades I have sent home monthly homework packets with my students. Why?

  1. Because, all parents want the best for their child.
  2. Because, parents are partners and deserve to be given the tools to help their child succeed.
  3. Because, homework time between parent and child can be a bonding time.
  4. Because, homework offers opportunity to develop responsibility, time management, and persistence.
  5. Because, homework increases student academics.
  6. Because, homework improves study skills.
  7. Because, homework enhances parent understanding of classroom academics.
  8. Because homework does not have to involve worksheets.
  9. Because, homework can be given that is respectful of parent's valuable time.
  10. Because, homework can and should be fun!

Our homework packets are available in three levels: Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade. They can also be used as leveled homework to meet the academic needs of students. Because we have taught all three of the grades we are addressing and used these packets, they have been refined to strategically meet the needs of students and follow a systematic pattern.

Following are samples pages from my monthly homework packets. These packets are fun, engaging, flexible and easy to use. Best of all, children love them, they increase academic performance and allow parents to be true partners in their child's education. 


Sample Pages

All of our homework packets are available below, or on TPT!

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Why Traditional Homework Doesn't Work... and How to Fix it.

In 1995 Betty Hart and Todd Risley conducted a study which revealed a language gap that exists between families of different incomes, and shed light on a disparity of parent/child interactions that follow children through their lifetime. It seems the greatest gift that parents can give their children is free and readily available: quality and substantive interaction.

 
In four years, an average child in a professional family would accumulate experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family 13 million words.
— The Early Catastrophe: Hart and Risley
 

Dana Suskind of the Thirty Million Words Initiative and author of Thirty Million Words: Building a Child's Brain explains: "Why is the effect of parent talk so profound? Because its results are not only predictive of academic success in general, but on reaching potentials in math, spatial reasoning, and literacy, the ability to self-regulate behavior, reaction to stress, and even perseverance."

Other studies have also shown that time children spend with parents engaged in positive, quality experiences have great benefits upon their future success. Things like family meal times, emotional involvement, and one-on-one interactions are proven means for student success. Studies have also shown that children need time for both unstructured play, and family game time, during which children build academic skills at the same time that family relationships and communication skills are strengthened.

Although the research is clear in describing the elements that will build children who are strong both academically and emotionally, the actuality of modern life seem to run increasingly contrary to what is best. Parents are busy with demanding jobs and schedules and children are involved in activities that are mostly passive (such as television shows and video/tablet games). While these activities have benefits, they are input activities, which do not generally require the unpredictable demands of interpersonal interactions. In other words, a game or television show is much easier to predict than a person, and far less demanding.

Fortunately, a 2015 study shows that it is not the amount of time that parents spend with their children that makes the difference, but the quality of the activities that occur during that time. Apparently, if we use the time we have with our children wisely, we can achieve great things.

Is it any wonder then, that homework has become a source of debate for both parents and teachers? With our time so limited, and so important, every activity counts, and that's where traditional homework fails. A worksheet of practice activities sent home only for the purpose of fulfilling an obligation of daily homework just isn't going to cut it.

There is compelling argument for doing away with homework altogether, especially in the younger grades, but I would argue for something more moderate. After all, homework can serve as a bridge between teacher and parent, a method of communication that can inform families about classroom academics, children's abilities, and teacher goals. Additionally, when teachers build homework that fits the oral and cognitive needs of children, it can become a tool for parents to use to help them have quality interactions with their children.

I've stopped thinking of homework as extra practice that students take home. Instead, I treat homework as my way of sharing activities that provide families with tools they can use to have quality time together. Instead of sending home a vocabulary page, I send home an activity where students talk to their parents. Instead of sending home a page of math facts to practice, I send home a math game that children can play with their siblings and parents. I ask children to practice reading skills with their parents, and I send them home with a paper book to practice with. I try to make my homework about playing, cooking, painting, making, building, sharing, experimenting, and experiencing; the time that familys have together is valuable, and I want to respect that. I also respect time by sending home my activities as a monthly packet, instead of daily or weekly. That way, parents can use the activities in a way that fits their needs and individual schedules.

The response from parents to this homework has been incredible. They enjoy the time they spend with their children, and their children enjoy the time they spend at home learning and practicing skills. When we use homework in a way that respects parents and their important role as the primary teacher of their children, we are using it in a way that is powerful for student achievement and empowering for families.

So maybe it's time to rethink our goals for homework, and what we're really trying to accomplish by sending it home. My goal is to add to family life, not to take away from it, and to give parents access to materials that help make the most of their time. I hope that's your goal too.

If you would like to see exactly what I mean, here are three homework packets at different levels, designed to teach important skills for March. They are on SALE until the end of March.


Looking For Flexible Play-Based Homework?

Our homework comes in three levels: Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade. They can also be used as Below Benchmark, At Benchmark, or Above Benchmark for any of the above named grade levels.

Preschool homework.jpeg
kindergarten homework.jpeg
first grade homework.jpeg

4.00
Add To Cart
4.00
Add To Cart
4.00
Add To Cart
30.00 60.00
Add To Cart

Kindergarten Homework: No Prep and Developmentally Appropriate!

Are you looking for a Developmentally Appropriate Option to Kindergarten Homework?


Extend the learning at home by sending home monthly homework packets that are strategically linked to the Common Core Standards. Your students and parents alike will love the easy to use formats, engaging activities, and ease of homework management.


This packet includes contains all 16 Packets in our 
Kindergarten Series. And ALL 16 packets have two versions, English and Spanish Translation.


January Homework Contents

Table of Contents:
The Snowman A guided reading book
Snowy Lotto An alphabet game
Winter Delivery A sight word activity
Color Match Snowmen A color word activity
A Winter Wonderland A blending game
Snowflake Swirl A Counting activity
Snowman Clock A math activity
January Calendar A number handwriting activity

February Homework Contents
Table of Contents:
Little Valentines A guided reading book
Heart Bingo & Flash Hearts Sight word activities
Don’t Break My Heart A word segmenting game
My Valentines Using valentines to extend learning
Dragon Dance Alphabet Sound Fluency
Number Games Math Activities
February Calendar A number handwriting activity

March Homework Contents
Table of Contents:
Out in Space A guided reading book
Mr. Spaceman Conventions of Print
Letter Blast Off Alphabet Letter Sound Naming Automaticity
Race Through Space Alphabet Letter Naming Automaticity
Skip Counting Counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s
Alien Planet Segment Words into Individual Phonemes
Decode it-Defeat it Reading CVC Words
Alien Snap Counting From any Given Number

April Homework Contents
Table of Contents:
The Pond A guided reading book
Slithering Snakes Alphabet sound fluency
Frogger A decoding game
Turtle Lotto A sight word game
Family of Ducks Word families
April Calendar A number handwriting activity
Frog Eggs Composing numbers
Easter Egg Delivers Plus and minus

May Homework Contents
Table of Contents
The Jungle A decodable, sightword reader
Roar! A decoding game
Safari Sights A sight word game
The Jungle A writing activity
Around the Zoo A comprehension activity
At the Zoo An addition game
Gorillas in Cages A subtraction game

June Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Capture the Butterfly A word family game
Mosquito Slap A sightword game
Flower Garden A sentence game
I Can be a Scientist A sightword reader
Lilypad Leap A number line game
Ladybug Addition An addition activity
Dragonfly Subtraction A subtraction activity
Across the Curriculum A collection of fun learning activities

July Homework Contents
Table of Contents
The Beach A sightword reader
Sand Castles A sightword game
Summer Celebrations A sentence game
Diving for Letters Alphabet recognition game
Shell Addition An addition game
Beach Ball Subtraction A subtraction activity
The Number Swim Writing Numbers


August Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Rhyme Book A book of rhymes
My ABC’s An ABC activity
Ride to the Park A color recognition game
The Shape of Things A shape recognition game
Number Flashcards A number recognition activity
Name Writing A handwriting activity
All about ME A classroom community building activity

September Homework Contents
Table of Contents
The Game Sightword reader
Football Flashcards A capital letter review
Kick off ABC Game An alphabet game
Name Cheer A letter recognition activity
Football Rhymes A rhyming game
The Team A number game
Huddle Up A number activity

October Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Haunted House A syllable game
Boo to You An alphabet game
Spider Race An alphabet activity
Monster Cookies Beginning sound activity
Dark Woods Math A number game
No Tricks, Just Treats A sort and graph activity

November Homework Contents
Table of Contents
My Bear A sightword reader
Time to Hibernate An alphabet game
Star Gazing A letter sound game
A Walk in the Woods An ending sounds game
Letter Trace A handwriting activity
Bear Math Various math activities
Number Bears A flashcard activity

December Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Christmas Time A sightword reader
Christmas Tree ABC An alphabet game
To the North Pole A rhyming game
Christmas Sounds A phonemic isolation game
Sound Train Alphabet Sound Fluency
Christmas Memory A number game
Letter Cookies A handwriting activity

Fall Intervention Homework Contents (Spanish Version also included)
Table of Contents
I like Books A guided reader
Alphabet Flashcards An alphabet activity
Capital Shake An alphabet game
My Letters A letter fluency activity
Beginning Sound Isolation Beginning sound game
A-Z Handwriting Handwriting
Number Practice A math activity

Winter Intervention Homework Contents (Spanish Version also included)
Table of Contents
Planes An alphabet sound game
Letter/Sound Fluency Practice sheets
Matching Middles A phonemic awareness activity
Find the Picture A blending and segmenting game
Handwriting Handwriting Practice
Sight Word Study A sight word activity
Color the Shape A math activity
Bingo 0-20 number recognition.

Spring Intervention Homework Contents 
Table of Contents
The Early Bird An Alphabet Fluency Game
The Hungry Lamb Sound Fluency
Rain Go Away A decoding game
Flower Garden A sightword activity
Bunny Hop A segmenting game
Word Riddles Phonemic awareness
Number Hunt Number recognition
Baby Lambs Addition

August Homework Packet: Developmentally Appropriate For Early Learners

Because most kids are excited for the thoughts of new homework, welcome your new and eager learners with a "Developmentally Appropriate" Homework packet right away. This NO-PREP packet can be passed out at registration, orientation, back to school night, or even on the first day of school. The simple games and activities are fun, engaging and linked to standards. The packet is fun and easy for parents and child to complete together with nothing to return but a signed check off sheet.

These packets make homework a breeze! I copy the entire years worth of packets at the beginning of the year and place each in a ziplock baggie. I store these in a large plastic bin in my garage (keeping all months together). Then, when the new month nears, I simply go to the bin, grab the next month's worth of packets and take them to school. Some years I have simply sent these packets home in the baggies. For the last several years, I have used plastic homework folders. So, I simply take the returned folder, take out the last month's completed homework sheet, record it, put in the new month's homework, and then reuse the baggies.

As a bonus, all of the kindergarten-level packets come with a version with Spanish instructions. 


We offer all three levels for each of the 12 Months of a year. Additionally, we offer 3 Kindergarten RTI/Intervention packets for Fall/Winter and Spring with both English and Spanish instruction.

                                                             
        







Developmentally Appropriate - Child Centered Homework Packets: July

Tired of Worksheets? Are you looking for some great homework that is Developmentally Appropriate and Child Centered? You will love this NO-PREP option. These July packets will allow students to revisit important skills that should be mastered in order to be successful in the upcoming grade in school. This product is great from summer homework sent by teachers, parents looking to enrich learning in the summer, or homeschool parents that maintain a year round schedule.



Click on the links below to find these products at a low-price of $4.00 each on Teachers Pay Teachers.