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15 Homework Alternatives to Keep Kids & Families Engaged in Learning

Whether teachers are looking to change up the traditional homework concept or parents are wanting to add more learning opportunities at home, these 15 activities are packed with quality educational time!

By Lani Aquino

Teachers, parents, and/or any combination of the two know that the term homework is often met with deep sighs and stooped shoulders. With kids of all ages being involved in a myriad of activities outside of the school day and families working to carve out some quality time, it can be hard to make room for a cumbersome homework load. When out-of-school learning opportunities become more of a grudgingly accomplished chore, the learning impact can become questionable. When said chores impact the quality and quantity of meaningful family interactions, it’s time to take a second look at the at-home activities students are asked to complete.

By changing up the idea of traditional homework and offering some more actively engaging family activities, a win-win is being accomplished. Parents are no longer the homework police, and teachers are no longer frustrated by missing or incomplete assignments. Offering a list of alternative activities that imbibe learning and suggesting, not requiring, that families complete some together can shine a new lens on the different ways to learn together and build a stronger familial bond. When these 15 activities are coupled with conversations about the learning that takes place and experiences are shared with the classroom peer group, students can see and hear about the wonders of learning found in everyday life. It’s not about a project or a response paper based on the activity, it’s about living in the moment and reveling in the joys of simply doing and learning.

  1. Family Walk- A little exercise coupled with exploring the community is a great way to spend some quality time. Depending on the ages, walkers can be looking for letters, shapes, numbers, colors, etc. or simply debriefing the day.
  2. Cook/Bake- Time together in the kitchen accomplishes two tasks, feeding the family and the learning associated with following recipes, measuring, experimenting, etc.
  3. Documentaries- Put an educational spin on family viewing. Teachers can suggest specific films based on current curricular studies, or families can go rogue and select a topic of shared interest.
  4. Local Flair- Hit a local festival or community event. This gives families a chance to engage in their community and possibly learn about cultures and/or activities that are different from their usual experiences.
  5. DIY Projects- Tackle a DIY project as a family. Paint a room, craft a functional furnishing, or navigate a Pinterest project. The planning and execution of these coupled with a finished product or a valiant effort goes a long way toward teaching organization, following directions, and possibly resilience!
  6. Volunteer- There are lots of opportunities to help out in communities when you do a little digging. Choose a project that impassions the whole family. It may involve the investment of time and manpower at a specific location or the gathering/creating of supplies to donate.
  7. Family Book Club- This is another possibility of a teacher suggested title or a family choosing one of interest to all. There are also lots of great online resources, and a little digging can produce titles and activities for any age range.
  8. Bedtime Math- Making math a part of your everyday routine is as easy as a quick download. Bedtime Math is an app that offers users unique stories and problems to solve. It’s a fun way to get kids thinking about numbers and solving problems.
  9. Decorate- While hanging holiday lights may not be rocket science, it can certainly come pretty close! The enjoyment of planning and creating the aesthetics is an excellent learning experience and a fun family tradition.
  10. Explore Nature- Hitting a park or hiking a trail is a perfect way to get outside and connect with nature. There are lots of flora and fauna apps that can take the nature exploration to a higher level.
  11. Get Crafty- Whether a craft closet or the recycle bin becomes the supply center, there is lots to be learned from planning and constructing crafts. The end results can make great gifts, decorations, and/or usable accessories.
  12. Board Games- So much can be learned from board games, and there are games for every age level and various subject areas of interest. Whether it’s the strategizing of Risk or the counting in Chutes and Ladders, games reinforce skills and teach lessons in turn taking, patience, and humility.
  13. Green Thumb- An indoor or outdoor garden/planting endeavor is a great learning experience. Researching items to grow, caring for plants, and/or harvesting make this a thumbs up activity.
  14. Fitness Gaming- Use the Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii to charge up some family fitness time. Build on the enjoyment of utilizing the game system by utilizing it in a more active manner. By purchasing some of the fitness game components, everyone can get involved and reap some health benefits.
  15. Grocery Shopping- Get kids involved and teach them an important life lesson. Creating menus, making healthy and balanced choices, following a budget, and more are all valuable takeaways of being a part of the grocery shopping process.

Engaging time with family is an underused source of meaningful learning time. When the routine and often redundant chore of homework is replaced by quality time with family and learning together, the rewards are experienced by many. Rather than assigning an extra set of problems, offer families engaging ways to explore real-world experiences together.

If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings and tools (for teachers and for families) that we offer.





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