Is no homework the answer to smarter kids?

There’s a no homework movement out there and your kids might be caught up in it.  According to this story on Parenting.com http://www.parenting.com/blogs/mom-congress/melissa-taylor/should-schools-abolish-homework  elelemntary schools and middle schools are dropping homework – instead asking kids to read instead.  In other less extreme cases, the some scholls have a no homework on vacation rule.  The policy of no homework is supposed to give kids more time to become better readers, and to do that, they need more time to read – not more time doing worksheets.

In many instances, this no homework policy has had no impact on test scores – they’ve held steady (note, this is not to say they’ve improved, but it just goes to show that the kids may be getting all the test prep they need in class.)

The no homework policy leaves more time, theoretically, for kids to have unstructured play time.  However, I wonder if it just leaves more time – which might be spent watching tv (I know I use ‘homework first’ as the incentive for tv time) or on structured sports – I heard that our rec lacrosse league (which is a spring sport) now has “optional” practices, year round, three days a week.

And while these are optional and a chance to for kids to get better at a s sport, I also suspect that any kid who doesn’t avail him or herself of these practices will find themselves at a disadvantage come the spring.  So would no homework be a good deal in this case, because it would let a kid play an organized sport all year round, all the time.  Seems to defeat the “unstructured” or “reading” time behind the no homework policy.

So what do you think – should there be a no homework policy for our kids?  Will this make them smarter?  What would you do to make sure this time didn’t get transferred over to more ‘activities’ or tv/video game time.  Would you make your kids read?  Play outside?  Would no homework mean you’d have a family dinner more often?

Let us know what you think below.

Your Questions About Family Dinner Project

Daniel asks…

Who eats dinner together as a family? This is for a class project.?

Please list sex and age. How often? What type of family?

richmama answers:

I eat dinner with my boys ages 12&10 every week nite I’m 38, husband comes home too late for the kids to wait cause they get hungry! On weekends we all eat together all 3 meals

Susan asks…

What should I make for family studies project?

I have to make a “balanced meal” for my family. It could be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Not some easy pasta thing because almost everybody in my class is doing that. Something fast and hard to mess up because there’s going to be family feedback about how clean and how long and stuff. Thanks in advance!

richmama answers:

Just a few ideas:

for dinner, steamed broccoli, cauliflower, & carrots with an orange or pineapple sauce on top or plain, with brown rice & tofu or chicken (marinated & cooked in the sauce) You can marinate it overnight in the fridge, so it wouldn’t take long to prepare.)

for lunch, maybe falafel or hummus in pita pockets with raw vegetable sticks and/or fresh fruit on the side

breakfast, maybe a fruit smoothie with whole grain toast covered in peanut butter or a bowl of healthy cereal

a taco salad for lunch or dinner

Sandra asks…

Family meal vs. interesting science project- which is more important?

Please help me with this issue that has been troubling me a great deal.

Family dinner is important here. It is the only time when we can all sit down at the table together; that is, my SO, my two sons, and myself. It’s a sacred time that we all value quite a bit.

However, my six-year old and I have launched a moth and butterfly hatching project. Right now, we have four 10-gallon aquariums occupying our dinner table. It is a pain in the butt to move them every night, and they are quite heavy (filled with dirt). Finally, I do not like disturbing the delicate chrysalises and cocoons inside.

We live in a small, cramped apartment and there is nowhere else to put the aquariums. For the past week, we’ve been eating meals on the floor in the family room.

I keep telling myself that this is only temporary, as most of the moths will hatch within a month or two. But, I can’t help but feel guilty about sacrificing our family dinner at the table together. We do still eat as a family, but we are scattered about the room.

Your thoughts?

richmama answers:

For us, we’ve found that we have closer, more bonding and quality meals if we eat on the floor in the living room. There’s something about the table that seems to keep the focus on the meal and the food rather than on talking and enjoying our time together. Of course we talk and enjoy ourselves, but it isn’t the same as if we are sitting in the living room.

Since part of your guilt might me the importance that you have placed on the kitchen table, you can try to simulate a table in your family room. Instead of being scattered about the room throw a quilt down in the middle of the floor and picnic. Set the quilt like you would the table, maybe lay down some throw pillows where you want people to sit, and enjoy your on the floor table.

The importance of family dinners is what they accomplish, now how they are done. As long as you are bringing your family together, having everyone show some interest in each other’s lives, talking, enjoying your time, and bonding, that is what is important.

Sandy asks…

Menu ideas for a cooking project for a 7th grader to prepare for family?

Hi I have to plan a meal (lunch or dinner) and prepare t for my family. It should consist of dishes that i have not made before. It has to have at least one serving from each group in the food guide pyramid for each person. It can be any food, no sandwhiches or quick meals (easy-mac, handburger helper ect.)

Please help me?

Just give me ideas please 🙂

Stuff that is unusual but yummy, please?

richmama answers:

My standard is hamburger, mac+cheese or mashed potato, and mixed veggies.

Another i like is pasta.
Sauce is sausage/hamburger, (about 1 lb) tomato pieces (2 large cans) and frozen mixed veggies.
Personally, i like small shells – they’re just easier, and you don’t get as much on your shirt.

I also like fish.
Catfish sauteed with sugar and lemon juice.
Rice and veggies.
I pour the extra lemon+sugar over the rice.

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Your Questions About Sharing Meal Times

Chris asks…

Meal times?

I have always brought my kids up to sit at the dinner table for their evening meal. Its a time when myself, my husband and the kids can grab some time together …catch up on each others day. Not sit in front of the TV .. grunting at each other..or not even talking at all…I love this time we share as a family.
Agree… or diagree?
WEN1988… I agree we should talk at all times… But I know alot of people who sit in front of the TV at any time of day and do not talk to each other.
If we are watching Tv as a family we have discussions there also.

richmama answers:

I couldn’t agree more!

When I was growing up in the 1960s, most families ate dinner together. Like a scene out of “The Wonder Years,” I can still recall the moms in our close-knit neighborhood, yelling out back doors for their children to come to the table…of course, we kids would agree to meet after dinner for an evening game of tag or to play records, lol.

Dinner was always a special occasion, because my parents made it so. Whether the entree was a simple meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or a full-blown Sunday dinner with all the trimmings, there was always a lot of discussion, laughter, and even debate. My dad might discuss his work…my mom would mention hearing from a distant relative…my older brother would talk about his new-to-him jalopy…my older sister would complain about her latest boyfriend…and I, as the “baby” of the family then in the third grade, would ask questions about fractions and long division, lol.

It was a time to speak out, to listen intently, and to mature. It was a time to learn how to share…not only food…but time and experience.

When my daughter was born, my husband and I carried on the tradition of a family dinner hour. Sometimes, it was difficult for us as a family, as we both had to work full time…and sometimes we didn’t eat until 8 p.m…but SO worth it! Everyone was encouraged to, literally, “bring something to the table”…a current event, a concern, a problem, a reason to celebrate…anything and everything.

Some evenings, we would make it extra fun by doing the unexpected…frying chicken and having an indoor picnic on a blanket on the dining room floor…having a build-your-own taco night and putting dessert (candies) in a homemade pinata, etc.

Most celebrations and family gatherings do involve sharing a meal, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, weddings, and reunions. Family dinners are the perfect opportunity to celebrate the most ordinary of days, each and every day!

Thanks for asking this question and for bringing back a ton of wonderful memories! 🙂

William asks…

What meal-time grace/song do you sing with your preschool students?

I’m looking for a short and sweet meal-time grace for preschool students. For those of you that do say/sing a grace or song prior to meal time maybe you can share it? Thanks!!!

richmama answers:

God is great,
God is good,
and we thank him
for our food.
Amen

There is a song called “Johnny Appleseed” that the kids like to sing. Its a popular song in terms of prayer type songs.

Oh, the Lord is good to me
and so I thank the Lord
for giving me
the things I need
the sun and the rain and the appleseed
the Lord is good to me.
Amen

Michael asks…

Ideas please for Toddler meal times?

Any tried and tested favourite meals that people would like to share. My son is 13 months and we’re just starting to experiment with flavours and textures a little more.

His fav so far is Rice and Beef…

Cook the rice for 7 minutes – add cubed red peppers and frozen peas – continue to cook for 5 minutes until water is absorbed. Meanwhile fry onions, garlic & cubed carrots in oil for a few minutes. Add minced beef and fry until browned. Puree this to make the beef easier to eat. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix the rice and beef and… Voila! Yummy and healthy!

richmama answers:

My daughter daphne paige is 2 when she was your babys age we gave her finger foods, like chicken tenders cut up fine, fruit cocktail, roasted potatoes at dinner time, she was a good eater, but she hates peas just like me lol, but finer foods are good.just cut up fine.

Sharon asks…

How do I get my 9 month old to feed herself?

My daughter eats all solid foods, no jarred baby food at all. She eats with us at all 3 meal times and shares whatever we are having, but WILL NOT feed herself. She opens her mouth, clearly wanting some but wants us to give it to her. If I put it on her high chair and let her try herself, she just plays with it, doesn’t bring it anywhere near her mouth.
How can I encourage her to start feeding herself?

richmama answers:

Put some food on the spoon/fork and leave it in front of her. Sooner or later she’ll figure out she needs to put the food in her mouth herself. Good luck:)

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Your Questions About Family Dinners

Richard asks…

Family Dinners?

.
Who is most disruptive at the big family dinner: two brothers who see things differently regarding religious beliefs, or a third brother who tries to pit the other two against each other by renewing old arguments?
.
If a neighbor, rather than a brother, drops in and tries to do the same thing, what can the brothers do?
.

.

richmama answers:

If there is an impasse of opinions, then ban the topic from the dinner table.

When a guest shows up, and the question is asked, politely inform him that the subject is not allowed for discussion and nip it in the bud quickly.

Sandra asks…

How are family dinners beneficial for parents?

I know that having family dinners will give children a sense of belonging and support; but for parents, how are family dinners beneficial? What positive messages do parents receive from dinners?

richmama answers:

Spending time with children.talking to them.

Thomas asks…

How long are your family dinners?

I hear that the average family dinner is about 45 minutes. How long are your family dinners? And how many people are in your family?

richmama answers:

I’ve never had a family dinner…

*PONDERS*

…..

Chris asks…

Family dinners…?

When I was having dinner with my significant other and his parents, I noticed it was more of a two way conversation between my significant other and his mother. They were just talking to eachother and not really giving me eye contact or trying to include me in the conversation.

Anyone else have this problem?
I see him maybe 2 times a week
he lives at home so they see eachother everyday

richmama answers:

They are just bad mannered pigs, you sure you want to stay with this idiot?

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Your Questions About Family Dinner Recipes

Donald asks…

EASY family dinner recipes for 4?

I would like some good easy recipes for tastey dinners. It seems like we have spaghetti, burritos/enchiladas/tacos and then stirfry..and then start over again. I would like some new things to mix it up a little. Please no recipes with seafood or a lot of onions. Also there will be a toddler eating this dinner so either nonspicy ..or spice on the side would be good. Thanks!

ooooh please don’t give me a www…. answer..just recipes your family likes please

(we do have a crockpot)

richmama answers:

Cashew Chicken
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion chopped
2 cups frozen broccoli cuts,
1 3 cups of boiling water
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 jar (6 ounce) sliced mushrooms drained
1 tablespoon chicken boulilon granules
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground ginger
pepper to taste
3/4 cup salted cashews, divided

In a large bowl combine the first 9 ingredience and transfer t o a greased shallow baking pan. Cover and bake at 375 for 45 to 55 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining cashews.
It is really easy .

Mandy asks…

Help: What are some good, classic family dinner recipes?

I live with my Mom, and we used to always get unhealthy take out. And after gaining 20 pounds each and losing tons of money, it’s time for a change. But the problem is, my Mom has no idea what to make. We do the basic chicken breast, and the boiled pasta, but that’s about it.
Can please give us some simple, healthy recipes? It would be greatly apperciated.

Note: I’m allergic to all tree nuts (not peanuts) and seafood, plus I hate really strong spices. And we are sort of on a budget.
We are Italian, and enjoy classic meals.

richmama answers:

I’m Italian too – and love the classic foods I grew up on. You’ve definitely got to make them with a bit of a twist to make them healthy, though. My Aunt used to make a fantastic meatloaf – this recipe has the best parts of it (spicy ketchup glaze, juicy meat) but has lean ground turkey as the main ingredient and adds chunky diced veggies to get those in, too –

http://www.easyfoodandwine.com/Turkey-Meatloaf-Recipe-Wine-Pairing.html

Sandra asks…

What are some good family dinner recipes?

I just want to cook with my dad, and we love to have a good verity of food.We like Pasta,Steak,Casserole,Mexican food, and etc.

richmama answers:

You didn’t mention chicken but who doesn’t like chicken? This was one of my favorites to help my mom with. Http://www.recipezaar.com/Cornflake-Crusted-Chicken-328726

Lizzie asks…

anyone know of any good websites with healthy, easy, family dinner recipes?

i am a beginner cook…. i want to loose 30-40 lbs by augest, which means better eating habits i know! problem is, i have a 6 yr old and a husband who are picky eaters! i’ve tried googling, but havent come across any good sites yet. i am finding either gross looking healthy recipes or fattening easy recipes.

so anyone know of any good websites or recipes for healthy family eating?

richmama answers:

My sister swars by this website:

http://www.makedinnereasy.com/

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