The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

One Small Step for Children

on September 10, 2016

I didn’t plan to write anything for my blog today, but then I read an article in The Oregonian this morning that had some good news, and I just couldn’t hold off telling readers about it for another day.

Although the research findings that doing homework has no positive effect for elementary school students have been around for several years, nobody has paid much attention to them. Not only do most schools still pile homework on young kids, but most parents also want it for their children, even if they have to spend a lot of time helping them understand what to do and checking the finished product.

However, at least one school in Portland, Oregon has gotten the message and acted on it. Cherry Park Elementary School, has declared loud and clear to its students’ parents that their children should use their after school time for playing, exercising and enjoying family interactions. The school still encourages parents to read to their children if they have the time and the children want it, but it is doing away with the reading logs required until now that had to list the number of minutes a child read or was read to each day and be signed by a parent.

I wish I could say that all this has happened through teacher and principal enlightenment, but from what I read it sounds more like widespread aggravation. Cherry Park School is in a high poverty community where families speak more than 30 different languages. I wouldn’t be surprised if getting reading logs with the requested information has been a hassle and that many parents complained about doing it.

Personally, I don’t approve of homework for elementary students either, but I believe strongly that having parents read aloud to their children is a powerful force in building their interest in books, knowledge of literary structure, and vocabulary. In this case it seems like it just wasn’t feasible on a grand scale. Still, I hope parents who can handle it will still continue, and that classroom teachers will fill out the empty places by reading aloud to their students as often as possible. Even 10 or 15 minutes of listening to a good book can mean a happy ending to the school day for many children.

One response to “One Small Step for Children

  1. Doug Garnett says:

    Thanks for writing this, Joanne. As parents we’ve struggled with homework. When the school says it’s needed it’s tough to support them when we don’t see it delivering any value.

    It was even worse in that my youngest (on the Autism spectrum) was given weekly homework in Kindergarten and the teacher used a wall of shame to indicate which kids had turned it in… We didn’t find out until March. He’d done it all – but why would we expect a wall of shame in Kindergarten?


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