Today I have three articles about creating more joyful learning (and joy in reading) for kids. The first is about giving kids time to "wonder aimlessly) to figure out what they most enjoy. The second is about giving kids reading choice, and not imposing rules on them that we would not follow ourselves. The third is about how one teacher is working to remake homework policies to better serve the needs of his students.
Jason Kotecki: "This ability to “wonder aimlessly” is a valuable thing. It is the heart and soul of tinkering and the key to a happy, fulfilling life...
The current system in America is anything but aimless. From the earliest ages, the goal is to get kids reading as quickly as possible, even if that means limiting the amount of time they have for “aimless” free play, which interestingly enough,science has confirmed is crucial to the development of resiliency and conflict resolution, while helping them discover their own areas of interest and engage fully in the passions they wish to pursue."
Me: I agree with Jason and his wife Kim that kids need time to pursue "aimless" activities, so that they can recharge, figure out their passions, learn resilience, and a host of other benefits. I find in practice as the parent of a six-year-old that this is easier said than done. But I appreciate posts like that one that remind me of why I need to keep trying...
Pernille Ripp: "Choice is the cornerstone of our own literacy life, yet it is one of the first things we tend to remove for children, especially fragile or developing readers...
And while we can say that reading logs foster more reading because it is a check up system, it also kills reading for many. If you want to see if the kids are reading, have them read in class and pay attention to what they are reading. Allow students to track in a way that is meaningful to them; Goodreads, notebook page, poster, pictures of books on their phone, or even through conversations. There is no one system that fits all and if a system we have in place is even killing the love of reading for one child, then we need to rethink it."
Me: In this post, Pernille Ripp hits on a variety of restrictions that we impose on kids' reading that risk killing their enjoyment of reading, like forcing "reflection" in the form of book reports about every book, and removing intrinsic motivation via reward programs. I just want to find a way to make every elementary school teacher in the country read this post, and come to understand these points.
Oskar Cymerman: "A lot of research says that any amount of homework is largely ineffective. Some academics see it as something that can still be used if adjusted. But how do we fix homework? And, can we fix homework? I do not know, but I know that as educators we need to do what serves our students best. It is not always clearly laid out what is best. Should we still give some homework or abandon it completely? If we give homework, how can we ensure that we do not give too much, as we rarely know how much is assigned in other classes? How do we still teach what we are mandated to teach when we know that assignment completion at home rarely leads to meaningful learning?
Here’s what I decided, so try it at your own risk if you wish." A seven-step "oath to students" follows.
Me: I'm still not sure as a parent how I'm going to handle homework expectations when my daughter starts first grade next year. But I do so appreciate teachers like Oskar Cymerman who are working to figure out ways to remake and minimize homework to better meet the needs of students and families.