Playtime is very important for children's development, and there's zero benefit to homework in elementary school.
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Conversations with neighborhood acquaintances often leave me with a lot to think about. And a recent conversation about homework left me thinking that the topic might be significant to a lot of families.
One of my neighbors has a daughter the same age as mine, and our girls enjoy playing together when we run into each other. Recently, I saw her at the playground and asked how her daughter’s kindergarten year had gone at our local public school.
She said she liked the school alright, but the homework was a real drag. Her daughter brought home 5 to 10 pages of homework, and getting it all done ate up their evenings as a family.
As she described it, I realized that she spent more time doing homework with her daughter than I spent in formal lessons to homeschool my daughter for the same level in school.
To be clear, the little girl was in kindergarten. This mountain of homework was being assigned to 5-year-olds.
Call me crazy, but homework in kindergarten seems excessive. This unnecessary busywork takes away time that could be spent on things that are much more important for young children, such as playing, reading aloud, getting outside, and spending time as a family.
But parents have options, and often a lot more say over their children’s education than they may realize. I was inspired by the example of my friend Candace, who encountered a similar homework situation at her son’s kindergarten and took a head-on and genius approach.
Candace learned that experts agree that playtime and outdoor time are very important for children’s development, while there’s no evidence of an academic benefit of homework in elementary school.
So she sat down and had a friendly conversation with her son’s kindergarten teacher explaining that her son would not be doing any homework that year.
I told his teacher, “We prefer that he spend his afternoons on outdoor time, family time, and free time at this age, so we don’t plan to do homework. If there’s any specific subject you think he needs more time on or projects the class is working on, please let me know; we can be flexible.” I followed it up with a note in his folder that said the same thing.
I think this is such a wonderful way to handle the issue. Hopefully if you take a similar approach, you might inspire a few other parents to jump on the no-homework bandwagon with you.
Candace had a few tips for parents who want to take the same approach:
It helps to approach the teacher with friendliness and confidence, rather than feeling defensive or contentious. For our family, the main benefit was time spent outside or on other interests instead of on worksheets. An added bonus was zero time spent arguing over homework.
Ultimately, every family has a unique situation. But she’s so glad she took the no-homework route. It was the right decision for her family.
“You know your child best,” she said. “I know my son thrives when he has plenty of play and movement and fresh air in his day.”
As do all children, honestly. So if you find yourself spending all evening on homework for a young child, I hope Candace’s example can inspire you to opt out completely. I don’t think you’ll regret it for a minute.