Lillian Seldridge / Wickenburg, Arizona, US

Of course teachers have goals that they want their kids to reach by the end of the year, and it’s important to have a sense of where kids are heading next. But there has to be a balance between preparing them for what they may need down the road and providing them with what they need now.

The good news is that it’s not always a zero sum game when it comes to kids’ time; for instance, it’s not learn math OR play after school. But some children homework english help, because of the high workload at school or college. Playing helps kids develop essential skills needed for math—creativity, problem-solving, and flexibility, to name a few—not to mention the fact that their brains are processing and consolidating new information during down time.

Learning doesn’t happen only while hunched over a desk; individual “seatwork” is actually the least engaging, and therefore least effective, kind of learning—and we know most kids get plenty of that during the school day.

It’s true that many middle schools have crushing workloads and an unforgiving environment. But just because middle school might not be developmentally appropriate doesn’t mean that we should start the pain earlier. Piling on the work load and having draconian classroom policies in fifth grade doesn’t really prepare kids for middle school—but it does prepare them to dread middle school.

In addition to rejecting “trickle-down” homework policies, we must work to effect change in middle schools so that policies and practices are more developmentally appropriate for young adolescents.

Elementary school is really the last chance for kids to be little kids. Let’s not rush them out of this stage because we believe we are giving them a leg up in future years. And in their last year of elementary, it’s okay to let them have a Halloween party or exchange valentine cards. And they need time after school to play—to wrestle with the dog, swing on the monkey bars, build things out of Legos. Soon enough they will be young adults. But what they need now is to be kids.

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