No Homework Until 4th Grade at Waldorf Schools, Really.

kids need free playWhen is the last time your first, second or third grader came home without homework?

Do you long for the simpler days when your child could come home from school, run out the front door and play until dinnertime?

“Amazingly, no research has ever shown that homework — that is, making kids work a second shift after having spent all day in school — provides any benefits, academic or otherwise, at least before the age of 15 or so, and possibly not even then,” says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth: Why Our Kids Get Too Much of a Bad Thing. “Given the clear disadvantages — frustration, exhaustion, family conflict, loss of time, and possible diminution of interest in learning — it really does appear that homework is all pain and no gain.”

Unfortunately, the homework ‘cram’ and rigorous testing so pervasive in most elementary schools is now stealing precious play time from 5 and 6 year old kindergarteners. Studies demonstrate that increasingly homework is taking the place of other activities (like outdoors and free play) critical to the proper development of children.  And, some experts think that “this country’s continued viability hinges on what is known as the “imagination economy”: qualities like versatility, creativity, vision — and playfulness — that cannot be outsourced.”

Qualities that do not come from overloading kids with nightly homework, as explored in this recent NY Times article.

“Often homework feels like an endurance contest,” writes Kohn in The Homework Myth. “The psychological costs can be substantial for a first-grader who not only is confused by a worksheet on long vowels, but also finds it hard to accept the idea of sitting still after school to do more schoolwork.”

If your grade schooler is regularly coming home with one or more hours homework or homework they can only complete with your help, reclaim your child’s childhood. Visit a Waldorf School, where homework does not begin in earnest until 4th grade – and even then is only assigned for specific purposes: to review and reinforce class work; to allow the student to exercise inner creativity and deepen thought; and to bring subjects, such as music, into the home and daily life.