I have no doubt that it wasn't just the students celebrating when Texas teacher Brandy Young told her second graders that they wouldn't have homework this year — you know the parents were ecstatic. You would be, too. I mean, best news ever, right?
But is it best for our kids? Should kids even have homework in the second grade? (Did you and I? I'll deny it, but that was a long time ago...)
Is homework bad or good?
Well, that depends. On the plus side, homework teaches responsibility and time discipline, and it's a good way for kids to catch up on an area in which they're struggling. On the downside, in some cases, homework can take a "long" time. And let's be honest: if the homework is so difficult that a parent is doing the work, it's not benefiting anyone.
The bottom line? The sole act of completing homework isn't what will set your child up for success; it's how your child does homework and what else they do in their afternoon that will make a difference.
What exactly makes the difference? Here's what to do:
- Prioritize homework: If your child does come home with homework, get it done early. Come home, have a quick snack and get the homework out of the way.
- Incorporate physical activity and, if possible, some free play. Structured club sports are a great way to get in physical activity and camaraderie, free play is also a great outlet. Both benefit their academic performance, from better grades, to concentration and attentiveness.
- Allowing a child to read books they choose has been shown to correlate with school performance. In fact, 3rd grade reading proficiency is one of the most significant predictors of high school graduation and success in a career, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Do you sit down together at night for dinner? Some nights, I know that it's just impossible, especially with working parents' schedules. Eating family dinner together, even if that's just three to four nights a week, teaches your child healthy food choices to prevent obesity, reduces eating disorders, and even yields better social and emotional health. No time? Don't underestimate the value of heating leftovers, using a slow cooker, or cooking and freezing on Sunday!
- Kids —and parents —need their sleep. Having devices in their rooms impacts that. One study showed that kids who had a smartphone in their room fell asleep up to four hours later than those who kept phones out of the room. Have a plug-in place and time that's outside of the bedroom and ends an hour or so before bedtime.
This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.