Parents of young children have long been frustrated with the stacks of homework that their children bring home from school, but that may be starting to change — at least if the actions of one New York elementary school spread across the country.
P.S. 118 in Park Slope, New York implemented the program that does away with traditional homework in favor of play-based, activity-centered learning for elementary-aged children called the “Exercise Your Brain” program.
Third-grade teacher Laura Willeford helped design the program along with the husband-wife team of Alexis Hernandez and Matt Weeks — first- and third-grade teachers respectively.
“Learning should be self-initiated and not top down,” Willeford said. “And they start realizing that the things they create are important.”
The school cited studies that have shown that young children get little-to-no benefit from traditional homework in their decision to make the change, which has been met with positive responses from parents.
“I just love it,” Carrie McLaren, mother of a third-grade student, told DNA Info. “It acknowledges that what kids come up with on their own when they’re given free time is more beneficial than worksheets and canned lessons. [It] acknowledges what I think the goal of every teacher should be, which is making connections for kids between what goes on in the classroom and their daily life.”
McLaren echoed the frustration of many parents who struggle to get their young children to complete the stacks of homework they get sent home with.
“To me, it kind of sucked the joy out of learning,” McLaren said, praising the aspect of the program that gives children the ability to pursue things that interest them.
P.S. 118 only goes up to the third grade and as Jennifer Astuto, psychology professor at NYU Steinhardt and director of playLabNYU, noted: “It’s ridiculous that kindergartners around the city get two hours of homework… But that is absolutely happening.”
“Anytime we’re able to tap into a child’s motivation and source of inspiration and connect it to content or a topic of study, it’s going to have a really good outcome,” Astuto continued.
There’s a lot of politically-correct, liberal, hippy-dippy crap out there in the educational system but, honestly, I don’t think this is one of those things.
It does seem unnecessary for young children to be bogged down with hours of homework that probably does little more than make them dislike learning.
While kids do need to learn time management and responsibility, of course, it seems like a good idea to try and get kids to have fun with learning and allow them to just be kids. If it works better than handing out piles of homework, that’s a good deal in my book.