The importance of homework in the early grades is overrated. Much of the work assigned to the younger students (kindergarten – fourth grade) should be accomplished in the classroom. This premise is based upon three specific points; most of the learning and understanding of subjects for ages 4-10 is concrete and literal, unsupervised academic learning is counterproductive, and young minds need time to freely think and express themselves through play.
Homework for the young child assumes the child is capable and fully engaged in the topic of study. However, most children have some limitations due to life experience and the inability to readily apply learned concepts to new applications. Thus, the young child should only receive supervised instruction.
For the child to be fully able to grasp math or scientific concepts requires much more abstract thought than most children under the age of 10 are capable of producing as a self-taught learner. If the homework session is simply practice for the skill taught in the classroom, this is redundant and the student finds this process without merit.
Six hours of schoolwork is tiring. The addition of homework to a child’s schedule will cause mental fatigue to a child in a functioning home. For a child with a difficult home life, the additional stress of homework does not help the struggling child. Children need time for daydreams, unstructured play, and exercise regardless of individual or team sports, dance, or music lessons. These activities increase a child’s brain activity much more than the addition of homework.
Homework may have some merit, but in extremely limited quantities. The question of “What did you do in school today?” should suffice and offer the parent and child an opportunity to discuss the day’s learning.