Big Kids

COMMENT: School's reasons for banning homework are spot on

We all know the benefits of homework: it reinforces what the students learned in school that day, teaches time management and, in a way, helps us parents keep track of our kids' progress.

However, and this is a BIG however, it is time-consuming, eats into family time and is the reason for the majority of the fights… well in our house anyway.

Now, before we go any further, for this piece in question we are just going to focus on primary school; secondary school is a whole different ball game.

That's when exams start being the main topic of conversation, and homework and study become extremely important for getting ahead.

But in primary school?

Maybe after fourth or fifth class, but definitely not when they are five-, six-, seven- or eight-years-old. 

School is exhausting; for four or five hours a day, our youngsters have to deal with new topics and subjects, deal with conflict and friendships and try to be heard in a class of 20/ 30 other pupils.  

And then they have to come home and do 30 to 60 minutes of extra work, when all they really want to do is hang out and play.

Which is exactly what kids should be doing. 

One primary school, who deemed homework an ineffective way to educate children, decided to get kids to read and play instead of sitting down to do maths after five hours in the classroom.

And we totally agree with them. 

Instead of the typical after-school assignments, Orchard School in South Burlington, Vermont, issued a no-homework policy that needs to be implemented here.

Teachers simply ask kids to read just-right books every night and have their parents read to them as well. 

They also ask them to "get outside and play – that does not mean more screen-time" and get a good's night sleep. 

But our favourite part?

The school encourages children to eat dinner with their family AND help with setting and cleaning-up.

It was started six months ago by principal Mark Trifilio, who, at the start of the academic year, asked teachers what they thought of getting rid of homework.

And unsurprisingly it has received nothing but positive feedback. 

In fact, according to a study conducted by Gerald K LeTendre, Professor of Education at Pennsylvania State Universitywho analysed a Trends in Mathematics and Science Study, "even 30 minutes of homework a night, if combined with other sources of academic stress, can have a negative impact [on elementary/primary school students]."

And while long periods of studying for primary school kids is pretty much the norm now, according to Gerald, there is no evidence to support that this level of homework has clear academic benefits. 

Yes, homework is important, but so is playing on the road with friends, helping Mum and Dad in the kitchen, making a mess with Lego and basically enjoying childhood for as long as possible.

There's plenty of time for all that study malark in secondary school. 

Mary Byrne

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