In recent weeks, a report on the value of homework has been making the rounds. In a nutshell? Homework for elementary school children is not beneficial.
Texas teacher Brandy Young has apparently taken these homework findings to heart. As USA Today reports:
“Last week, mom Samantha Gallagher posted a note on Facebook from her daughter's teacher reading: ‘After much research this summer, I'm trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.’”
But the no homework policy does not come without strings. Instead of filling up the extra free time with sports or extracurricular activities, Mrs. Young requested that parents take time to be with their children:
“I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.”
The fact that Mrs. Young’s note has taken the internet by firestorm suggests just how unusual – and appreciated – her advice is.
But while her advice is rare, it corresponds with one of the three elements that medical doctor Leonard Sax believes is a forgotten aspect of parenting, namely, enjoying your children.
In his book, The Collapse of Parenting, Sax notes that so many parents are occupied with checking their emails, running the soccer carpool, and making sure that their child doesn’t miss out on opportunities, that they often miss out on the biggest opportunity of all: time together. Sax writes:
“Enjoy the time you have with your kids. That means no devices at mealtime. When you are sitting at the table together, the focus should be on interaction. Listen to your child and talk with your child.”
Those who fail to do so, Sax writes, send an “unintended message… that relaxed time together as a family is the lowest priority of all.”
In modern America, the family unit has fallen into deeper and deeper disarray. The public education system has stepped in to pick up the slack by becoming a substitute “expert” parent who will guide children to success and a functional future.
But if the recent chaos and low academic scores in the schools are any indication, such a tactic isn’t working there either.
If we want to see improved academic and behavioral success coming out of our schools, are we going to need more teachers and experts like Mrs. Young and Dr. Sax encourage and enable families to spend more time with one another? Will such efforts be effective, or will they fall on deaf ears?
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.