After a long day of interacting with others, focusing and sorting out problems, what is your unwinding activity of choice? Perhaps it’s a walk with your dog, watching your favourite television show, spending time with your family, or sitting outside enjoying a few minutes of calm. All of these things are inviting and great choices that provide balance and positive mental health outcomes for every member of the family, children included.


Children spend their days focusing, learning new things, building their relationships and exploring the world around them. This can be both exciting and exhausting all at the same time and just like adults, they need time to rest, relax, have fun and connect with their loved ones. Studies have shown that homework (additional school work done at home in the evening) for children in primary and even middle grades of elementary school is only effective when it is a repetition of what was learned in the classroom earlier that day. Even with this, the effectiveness is very small and when taken in consideration of what the child will be missing out on in rest, play and quality time with family to complete it, the cost does not equal the benefit. In addition, the added stress that homework can bring to children, and therefore the adults attempting to either force the child to complete the homework or help them understand something they are struggling with is definitely not worth the outcome. Children are much healthier and better able to learn each day in the classroom if they are allowed the same down time and self care that we preach to adults.


In older students, homework can be beneficial for learning if it is manageable and expectations allow for balance and rest. Rather than assign homework for the sake of homework, we should be teaching our students how to manage their time. If sufficient time is given in class to complete assigned work, students should be able to complete their day, go home and enjoy their evening. We can teach time management using this method by only assigning homework if a student does not use their time in class to complete their work. Any incomplete work would need to be taken home to finish and would reinforce the need to manage time and encourage better use of class time. This allows for an optimal balance of learning, life skills and rest.

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