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Ban homework before third grade; support children’s play

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Tony Avelar / The Christian Science Monitor

(Read caption) Banning homework before third grade would offer an important chance to develop important life skills through children's play. Alexandra Ventura, 13, and her sister Susie, 8, right, jump on a trampoline in the backyard of their home in Santa Clara, Calif.

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When are we going to get it that young children need free and unstructured play in order to learn at their best?

More and more kindergartners and even preschoolers are getting academic work and even some to take home.

I just returned from London where I ran a number of parent workshops. In one, I was asked by a frustrated mother if I could help her convince her five year old to do his homework. I told her that I couldn’t do that because I am so opposed to young children having any academic work and that homework was the last thing her son should be doing. The whole group supported this mother in resisting the school’s assignments, but she became very worried about what it would mean for her child’s chances to move ahead into the proper schools.

Strangely, I hear that most schools are pressured by the parents to give homework at younger and younger ages. I entreat parents to come together to defeat this trend and to stand firm on allowing young children to be just that – young. Petition your schools to stop homework at least until third grade. And school officials, I plead with you to do what you can to educate yourselves and your parents on the perils of early homework.

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