A New Slant on Homework

IMG_6709Homework has traditionally meant practicing skills learned at home and/or reading material to be covered in class the next day. Even in the “flipped classroom,” homework is often a video version of a textbook or lecture. Traditionally, homework keeps children in the house, away from nature and meaningful interactions with others.

In the rapidly evolving new world, children will need more than ever to be able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in school to everyday life and real problems. In New World Kids, we ask children to use home and community as a new context for learning, thinking and relating to others.

Neither punish nor praise students for bringing in homework or not. Neuroscience shows us that rewards and punishments are only helpful for low-level skills and actually interfere with creative thinking, problem solving and other higher order skills. Also, even though they are young, many children may have a negative connotation about homework and worry about getting it “right.” Assure them that there is no right or wrong way to do this kind of homework.

 Objectives for Children:

  • To connect classroom activities to both the resources and problems of home, family, community, and/or the world of nature.
  • To investigate the Sensory Alphabet in new settings.

Process:

  • Provide an open-ended activity to do at home with family members or in the community. (Ideas below.)
  • Ask children to share homework at the beginning of the next class and talk about the diversity.
  • Photograph or otherwise records homework in each student’s portfolio.

Examples for younger children:

SENSORY ALPHABET

Space: What are the largest and smallest spaces you can find at home and in your neighborhood?

Line: Find straight and curvy lines in your neighborhood, such as fences, tree branches, car designs and rooftops.

Light: Find the moon every night.

Color: Find out favorite colors of family members.

Shape: Bring back a fallen leaf or rock in your yard with an interesting shape.

Sound: List or record outdoor sounds on your block, such as bird songs.

Movement: Find things that move on their own in your neighborhood, such as animals, machines, and so on.

Texture: Find interesting things to touch at home, in the yard, and other places in your neighborhood.

Rhythm: Find things inside and outside that can be used to make rhythms.

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READING, STORIES, WORDS

Ask your family about their favorite real or pretend stories.

Find a book you like at home or at the local library.

Collect words you see on signs in your neighborhood.

 

MATH

Find out how your family uses math during cooking, building, fixing things, sewing or other activities.

Estimate, and then count things in your house, such as how many squares are on the floor.

Find geometric shapes in your house or neighborhood.

 

SOCIAL/EMOTIONAL

Ask your family their favorite celebrations.

Think of your favorite things to do with friends.

List your favorite things to play.

Look at old photographs or ask family members what things they liked to do at your age.

With adult help, do something positive for very old or very young people in your community.

 

SCIENCE/NATURE

Find out good places to see nature in your community.

“Adopt” a tree and notice it everyday.

Cook or do a science experiment with an adult.

What animals can you find in your neighborhood?

Ask an adult to help you take apart an old toy with a motor and use the motor for something new.

 

ART/DESIGN

Make a model or draw a picture of your room, yard, or neighborhood. Imagine how to re-design it.

Make a model or draw a picture of something special, like a chair, for someone in your family.

Make or draw your own toy.

Find out what kinds of music your family members like.

 

For older children:

Ask them to apply what they are learning to their home, neighborhood, city or the world. Ideas:

Create a math problem that includes real people or things you know.

Read a book or part of a book to someone you know.

Play a game related to something you are studying.

Begin a project, such as recycling, related to something you are learning.

 

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