“Ban homework before third grade; support children’s play”. That was the banner headline from an article from The Christian Science Monitor that got quite a few shares recently on Facebook. And a fair amount of exposure through Twitter too.
Image source: Kelly Arnold of Better Learning Solutions
The article’s author, Bonnie Harris, makes a heartfelt plea to ban homework for young children because the ever-increasing load of homework is eating into the time that they have for that most vital of learning experiences, free play. How much time less for free play, and how much time more for homework? The figures are staggering:
A study done by Sandra Hofferth of the University of Maryland found that from 1981 to 1997, American kids ages six to eight spent 25 percent less time engaged in free play and 18 percent more time in the classroom. Their homework time increased by a shocking 145 percent. Her updated research in 2003 shows play time continuing to decline and study time increasing yet another 32 percent!
Free play is vital – it’s how children learn resilience, personal competency, social skills, problem solving and a myriad other things that research shows are the best predictors of future academic success.