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School Gets It Right But Parents Freak Out

I was ecstatic when I saw this article come across my Facebook feed. I thought to myself, "Finally, a school responds appropriately to what all the research supports—and any child development specialist would tell you."

No homework for elementary school students.

Homework at the elementary school level has been shown time and time again to have little to no benefit. Yet most schools continue to heap more on students. Hours of it.

RELATED: Fighting the Homework Battles With Kids

My child has homework in Kindergarten, a fact I still can't wrap my head around even though we are well past the halfway mark of the school year.

Granted, it's not much. And it is very easy for her to complete. But that is not the case for every child. And regardless, it takes time away from things I believe are more important for her to be doing.

Like playing. Reading for fun. Enjoying family time. Participating in after-school activities she enjoys. Being a kid.

Her best friend lives two doors down from us. They attend different schools but often arrive home around the same time. They call out each other's name, run to one another and enjoy a huge bear hug.

Then they beg to play together. Her mother and I often sigh, look at the time and explain they need to complete their homework, and then it will be dinner time (or time to go to an after-school activity).

It breaks my heart every single time. On the rare occasions when we are able to say, "Yes," I am thrilled. Because they should get to play together after being in school for seven straight hours, during which they had virtually no playtime.

They are 6 years old.

If my daughter's school sent out a letter like this, I'd be doing a happy dance. Yet, as I read the article, I realized some of the parents of this school are unhappy. Angry even. They're freaking out about their kids falling behind and not having an academic advantage.

When did we as a society get like this? When did it become acceptable to steal childhood away from our kids? We just keep asking more and more of them. Where does it stop?

I think it would be OK for homework to be optional. Parents who want to help their children at home could request it. Teachers who see students who might benefit from some extra practice could suggest it.

But I think we all need to take some time to pay attention to what the research tells us. As the principal of the school in question wrote in her letter to parents, "The negative effects of homework have been well established."

The school leadership spent a year analyzing data, looking at a wide variety of studies on the issue. "Not one of them could provide any evidence that directly links traditional homework practices with current, or even future, academic success."

A voice of reason. That I for one am thrilled to hear.

So is Katie Hurley, LCSW, child and adolescent psychotherapist, and writer who has published many articles on the topic of education. "This is a step in the right direction. Parents, don't fear change. Play is learning."

RELATED: How to Handle It When a Child Hates Doing Homework

Homework should not be mandatory for elementary school students. That is my feeling as a parent, and it is the opinion of many experts in this field. It is high past time schools listen and affect change.

I applaud this elementary school for doing just that. I'm encouraged. Every day I read about education, and I feel a revolution coming. I want to be part of it. I want my daughter's generation to benefit from it. Bring it on!

Image via Elizabeth Flora Ross

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