Kindergartners should not have homework; first grad­ers should not have homework; fifth grade…maybe. In this fast-paced, super-information age, children are being given more and more homework at a younger and younger age. I imagine, sometime in the near future, pre-school students will bring home some sort of “Mommy, you have to help me with this or I’ll get a bad grade”, homework. Not to say that it isn’t good, or isn’t productive, but I say that it isn’t a good idea to give early grammar school students more than they can com­plete in class. First of all, school already takes up around seven hours of their day, seven hours per day learning grammar and general education; do they need an extra hour of work every day? Secondly, nowadays there are many single working-par­ent families and families in which both parents hold full time jobs; they may not have the time, ability, or willpower left after working, making meals, keeping house, and giving baths, to help their children with homework. Also, when children get out of school they want to play with their friends, pets, Lego’s, and do the things children like to do, they don’t want
to go home and do more schoolwork, nor should they have to. A child is only a child once, and not for very long, let him play.

A school is an institution for learning, so I say let our kids learn in school. Let them learn to read and write, to add and subtract, to sit and listen. Seven hours a day, five days a week is a sufficient amount of time to teach and learn these things, if it was not, I am sure we would extend the school day, or make our children attend kindergarten at three years old. I never had homework until I was in fifth grade. When I was a child we were not handed such “responsibilities,” those were adult things and we were kids. Sure, we had to get on the right school bus, but the teacher would even walk us there until the second month of the school year. Responsibility was something I learned at home, along with family values, reli­gious studies, and why stacking the firewood under the shel­ter was so important. Let our kids learn basic education at the school, let them not be weighted with the responsibility of homework, let them be kids awhile, and not rush them to learn more than is adequate; seven hours adequate.

Homemaking is more time consuming than any full-time job. The work begins first thing in the morning, and ends with the closing of eyes in the night, unless the baby wakes, or a child is sick and sleepless. My wife Linda, now a home-maker, used to be a single working parent of two boys. She would get up with them in the morning, serve breakfast, give baths, see them off to school, and clean up the meal dishes all before she went to work. Upon leaving work, Leena would pick the boys up from day-care, make dinner, do laundry and other housekeeping necessities leaving little or no time to get the kids’ homework done for the day. Some parents have plenty of time to help their kids with homework, but this leaves the rest of kids looking like bad students, or parents feeling like bad parents because they could not keep up. I have complete faith that our school system is able to educate our young chil­dren just as well without burdening the parents with home­work.

Last year, when my sons got home from school, they would change into their play clothes, do their chores, and do their homework just in time to have an hour left to play with their friends before dark. This year I am letting them do their homework just before bed, but still, I would rather they had no homework at all until they’re at an age when they are re­sponsible and able to do it with little assistance. Kids today have too much responsibility and worry put on them by this “go-go”,” be-the-best” society. Let the boy relax, or get hy­peractive, let him dig for fishing worms, or play swords with sticks. Do not rush him to grow up or take on duties that are unfit for a free spirit, let him put on his cowboy boots and six-shooter, don’t give him a pencil and more schoolwork after school, let him draw.

If I had a chance to speak with the superintendent I am sure he/she would say it is proven that children who do home­work learn quicker. Maybe the teacher would suggest that introducing homework at a younger age prepares the student for later schooling when much homework will be assigned. The upper middle-class parent would suggest that the single mom should get a tutor.

Of course, children who do homework learn quicker. But do the goals of the learning institution supersede the goals of the family institution? Is it more important for a child to be stuffed with fact and theory than to be free from stress in his younger years? I understand the effort to increase the produc­tiveness of school, but I question whether the motive is com­munity healthy or not.

Homework is just what it is, work done at home. It does not matter when it is introduced it will always carry the name “work,” and the student will either do it or not. Some things are just the way they are, you could have given me a million pages of homework before high school and maybe I would have completed them, but that would not have made me any more likely to get my algebra homework, in on time.

I firmly believed in tutors, so my wife set one up for our son Kevin who was in kindergarten at the time. The teacher said, “Kevin is having trouble reading”. I guess it has been a long time since I first entered school, I remember Mrs. Earl my kindergarten teacher, she taught me the ABC’s (reading was learned in later grades). Anyhow, we had secured a tutor for Kevin and I could not believe what the tutor did, of all the nerve, that tutor gave Kevin even more homework than the school did. Mom and dad are the tutors now.

In this flourishing information age, with accelerated ad­vancement of civilization and knowledge, children are given more responsibility and expected to learn quicker than ever before. School is the place we need to teach our kids, if there is not enough time in class save it for tomorrow. The parents need to be parents, not after schoolteachers. There are many things other than math and school studies that children need to learn from their parents. I believe if we rush these children to gain knowledge, take on responsibility, and leave them no time to be a child, we will take away from them the very thing that makes them children — freedom, freedom from stress and worries. Surely, a good education is very, very im­portant, so is a happy child. Really, think about it, would you rather have a smart, educated, super-civilized child; or a free and happy one? I prefer the thought of a laughing, playing, free spirited child. Let them wait until fourth or fifth grade to start having to carry a backpack to and from school.