A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

Those “Homework is Useless” Articles Are Lying to You

There’s something strange happening right now. There’s a movement afoot, and it’s getting stronger and louder every second.

Take, for example, this letter from a teacher that recently made its way around the internet. “Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance,” it reads, and promises, “There will be no formally assigned homework this year.”

It’s hardly the only one like it. Articles like it have been filling the internet lately, claiming that “homework offers no academic advantage” or calling on schools to “ban homework.” Even the people at Scholastic have written up an article called “Down With Homework!”

It’s catching on with parents, too. Some parents are writing articles saying that they won’t make their kids do homework in elementary school, others saying they won’t make them do any for as long as they live. And even Time Magazine is chiming in and telling parents that they “should not make kids do homework.

This is an incredible, passionate revolution of parents, seemingly more motivated to change their children’s lives than I’ve ever seen before.

It’s also completely insane.

It’s great that parents are fired up over something, but we all need to take a second and calm down and think about what we’re saying.

Homework obviously offers an academic advantage. Your kids should be doing their homework. And you should be encouraging your children to do their homework.

If we don’t take a moment and re-evaluate, we’re going to ruin an entire generation. Because here’s the thing about all of these articles:

They’re lying to you.

The study that shows homework is useless doesn’t exist.

This “homework is useless” trend all seems to come from one person: Dr. Harris Cooper. Almost every article telling us homework needs to be banned quotes his work. Those that don’t quote Cooper directly, quote books by Alfie Kohn or Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish – books that are almost entirely based on Cooper’s studies. In fact, the blurb of Kohn’s website mentions Cooper 37 separate times.

I tracked down Cooper’s work and read every word I could find, all while gritting my teeth, ready to argue with the man who was apparently telling the world that homework is useless. Once I read it, though, I couldn’t actually be mad at him – because Cooper doesn’t say that.

Not even once.

If you don’t believe me, you can read Cooper’s study for yourself. You’ll find that Cooper actually says there’s, “generally consistent evidence for a positive influence of homework on achievement.”

Dr. Cooper’s study is a review of every study on homework he could find. He was looking for patterns of evidence to show what effect homework really has in an effort to help temper the debate between parents and teachers about how much homework kids should do.

He definitely found some issues in the way we do homework. But overall, Cooper concluded that almost every study showed homework helps student performance.

The reason we keep hearing that homework is useless mostly due to the twisted game of telephone playing out in the media. Cooper’s study was quoted in Kohn’s book, Kohn was quoted in articles, and then other articles pulled the most sensational parts, turning them into clickbait pieces that drive traffic. Slowly, the actual results of the study were blurred, and the only piece left in the headlines doesn’t even resemble the truth.

Homework is practice, and practice makes perfect.

Even if there is a study determining that homework was useless, it still shouldn’t change your opinion. The fact that homework helps academic performance is just common sense.

We were eager to eat up this idea that homework was pointless because it made parenting easier. We didn’t stop for a second, though, to think about how ridiculous it might be to ban homework altogether.

Imagine if you heard this about something else. Imagine if somebody told you that practicing piano between lessons doesn’t improve piano-playing ability, or that playing baseball doesn’t improve a child’s ability to play baseball. Would you believe them?

Homework is practice, and it’s a way to help kids develop good habits. It’s a chance for your kids to take lessons they’ve learned in class and make sure that they can do them on their own. It’s also a chance for teachers to check how well their students understand what they’ve taught them, and give feedback that helps them improve or get back on track.

We can make homework better.

Cooper’s study wasn’t just gushing about how great homework is. He identifies a few problems with the way it’s delivered. And it’s these problems that continue to be quoted in articles. But his recommendations weren’t nearly as drastic as what you read online.

Cooper found that students learn more from in-class work than they do from homework. Sure, you can make that sound shocking as the headline of an article, but it’s really just common sense. In class, teachers check on a student’s progress and give feedback, and there’s a network of classmates who can help each other out. It’s most likely all that extra help that makes in-class work more useful.

He also found that young children often get too much homework – but he didn’t call for an end to it. Cooper suggests deciding how much homework a child gets by multiplying their grade by ten. So, first graders should do ten minutes of homework a day, third graders should do thirty minutes, and freshmen in high school should be getting half an hour of daily homework per class.

So, yes, homework could be better. There are changes schools could make that would help kids learn more. But we’ve let the actual solutions get so distorted that today, even the people teaching our kids have the wrong idea about what those solutions are.

Parents need to help their children.

Teachers aren’t perfect. Nobody does a perfect job every day they go to work, and no business is full of perfect employees. Teachers are the same as everyone else,  there are good ones and bad ones, and they have good days and bad days. There will be days your kid’s teacher gives homework that helps, and days they give homework that hurts.

What we can control is our parenting. As parents, we can do our best to make our children’s homework as valuable as it possibly can be – but we won’t do that by telling them not to do it at all.

If children are better able to complete work with a teacher present, parents need to be that teacher. When your children do their homework, check in on them. See if they’re having a hard time with something. And if they are, don’t just give them the answer, help them problem-solve.

Homework can be a beneficial tool to support our kids’ learning. But it’s only successful if parents step in to help their children with this work. 

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Baby stuff comes in such cute prints these days. Gone are the days when everything was pink and blue and covered in ducks or teddy bears. Today's baby gear features stylish prints that appeal to mom.

That's why it's totally understandable how a mama could mistake a car seat cover for a cute midi skirt. It happened to Lori Farrell, and when she shared her mishap on Facebook she went viral before she was even home from work. Fellow moms can totally see the humor in Farrell's mishap, and thankfully, so can she.

As for how a car seat cover could be mistaken for a skirt—it's pretty simple, Farrell tells Motherly.

"A friend of mine had given me a huge lot of baby stuff, from clothes to baby carriers to a rocker and blankets and when I pulled it out I was not sure what it was," she explains. "I debated it but washed it anyway then decided because of the way it pulled on the side it must be a maternity skirt."

Farrell still wasn't 100% sure if she was right by the time she headed out the door to work, but she rocked the ambiguous attire anyway.

"When I got to work I googled the brand and realized not only do they not sell clothing but it was a car seat cover."

The brand, Itzy Ritzy, finds the whole thing pretty funny too, sharing Farell's viral moment to its official Instagram.

It may be a car seat cover, but that print looks really good on this mama.

And if you want to copy Farell's style, the Itzy Ritzy 4-in-1 Nursing Cover, Car Seat Cover, Shopping Cart Cover and Infinity Scarf (and skirt!) is available on Amazon for $24.94.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy.You've got this.

You might also like:

Daycare for infants is expensive across the country, and California has one of the worst states for parents seeking care for a baby. Putting an infant in daycare in California costs $2,914 more than in-state tuition for four years of college, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Paying north of $1,000 for daycare each month is an incredible burden, especially on single-parent families. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines affordable childcare as costing no more than 10% of a family's income—by that definition, less than 29% of families in California can afford infant care. Some single parents spend half their income on day care. It is an incredible burden on working parents.

But that burden may soon get lighter. CBS Sacramento reports California may put between $25 and $35 million into child care programs to make day care more affordable for parents with kids under 3 years old.

Assembly Bill 452, introduced this week, could see $10 million dollars funneled into Early Head Start (which currently gets no money from the state but does get federal funding) and tens of millions more would be spent on childcare for kids under three.

The bill seeks to rectify a broken childcare system. Right now, only about 14% of eligible infants and toddlers are enrolled in subsidized programs in California, and in 2017, only 7% of eligible children younger than three years of age accessed Early Head Start.

An influx of between $25 to $35 million dollars could see more spaces open up for kids under three, as Bill 452, if passed, would see the creation of "grants to develop childcare facilities that serve children from birth to three years of age."

This piece of proposed legislation comes weeks after California's governor announced an ambitious plan for paid parental leave, and as another bill, AB 123, seeks to strengthen the state's pre-kindergarten program.

Right now, it is difficult for some working parents to make a life in California, but by investing in families, the state's lawmakers could change that and change California's future for the better.

You might also like:

When a mama gets married, in most cases she wants her children to be part of her big day. Photographers are used to hearing bride-to-be moms request lots of pictures of their big day, but when wedding photographer Laura Schaefer of Fire and Gold Photography heard her client Dalton Mort planned to wear her 2-year-old daughter Ellora instead of a veil, she was thrilled.

A fellow mama who understands the benefits of baby-wearing, Schaefer was keen to capture the photos Mort requested. "When I asked Dalton about what some of her 'must get' shots would be for her wedding, she specifically asked for ones of her wearing Ellie, kneeling and praying in the church before the tabernacle," Schaefer tells Motherly.

She got those shots and so many more, and now Mort's toddler-wearing wedding day pics are going viral.

"Dalton wore Ellie down the aisle and nursed her to sleep during the readings," Schaefer wrote on her blog, explaining that Ellie then slept through the whole wedding mass.

"As a fellow mother of an active toddler, this is a HUGE win! Dalton told me after that she was SO grateful that Ellie slept the whole time because she was able to focus and really pray through the Mass," Schaefer explains.

Dalton was able to concentrate on her wedding day because she made her baby girl a part of it (and that obviously tired Ellie right out).

Ellie was part of the commitment and family Dalton if forging with her husband, Jimmy Joe. "There is no better behaved toddler than a sleeping toddler, and she was still involved, even though I ended up unwrapping her to nurse her. I held her in my arms while my husband and I said our vows. It was really special for us," Dalton told POPSUGAR.

This is a wedding trend we are totally here for!

Congrats to Dalton and Jimmy Joe (and to Ellie)! 🎉

You might also like:

The internet is freaking out about how Peppa Pig is changing the way toddlers speak, but parents don't need to be too worried.

As Romper first reported, plenty of American parents have noticed that preschoolers are picking up a bit of a British accent thanks to Peppa. Romper's Janet Manley calls it "the Peppa effect," noting that her daughter started calling her "Mummy" after an in-flight Peppa marathon.

Plenty of other parents report sharing Manley's experience, but the British accent is not likely to stick, experts say.

Toronto-based speech and language pathologist Melissa James says this isn't a new thing—kids have always been testing out the accents they hear on TV and in the real world, long before Peppa oinked her way into our Netflix queues.

"Kids have this amazing ability to pick up language," James told Global News. "Their brains are ripe for the learning of language and it's a special window of opportunity that adults don't possess."

Global News reports that back in the day there were concerns about Dora The Explorer potentially teaching kids Spanish words before the kids had learned the English counterparts, and over in the U.K., parents have noticed British babies picking up American accents from TV, too.

But it's not a bad thing, James explains. When an American adult hears "Mummy" their brain translates it to "Mommy," but little kids don't yet make as concrete a connection. "When a child, two, three or four, is watching a show with a British accent and hears [words] for the first time, they are mapping out the speech and sound for that word in the British way."

So if your baby is oinking at you, calling you "Mummy" or testing out a new pronunciation of "toh-mah-toe," know that this is totally natural, and they're not going to end up with a life-long British pig accent.

As Dr, Susannah Levi, associate professor of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University, tells The Guardian, "it's really unlikely that they'd be acquiring an entire second dialect from just watching a TV show."

It sure is cute though.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.