The Bottom Line

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In school age care, many programs focus their programming on homework and activities with a direct educational intention to extend learning beyond the school day.

School is an important part of life, but one aspect of becoming educated is learning how to take care of self. All of the knowledge in the world is useless if the container where it is housed fails.

Our health is not usually a concern when we are young, but the habits and actions of our youth affect who we become as an adult. If children are encouraged to engage in only sedentary activities, studying, homework, TV, video games, technology, etc. then they are more likely to gravitate toward sedentary activities for the remainder of life.

Our role as educators is to be a mentor, advocate, and guide. One aspect of our role in school age care, is promoting a well-rounded education, by offering children the opportunity to go outside and engage in physical activity. It’s okay to play.

There is time for homework, but it should be after play. Children have a long workday, like many of us, and need to fill their activity bucket. 

The World Health Organization recommends that children 5-17 years old participate in sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. A long play session right after school would fill this important need and allow children to decompress from their workday.

After a vigorous play session, the children will be refreshed, relaxed, and ready to tackle the rest of their day. Time children can use to refuel with a snack, do homework, socialize, read, or work on projects with peers and educators. 

There are few obstacles school age educators encounter that keep us from promoting more physical activity. Yes, there is some pressure from parents about homework and some programs strictly follow a daily schedule. As an advocate for children, we must stress to parents and our program leadership that a balanced education for young children includes having time to be active. 

I wonder if there are more benefits for school age children from sixty minutes of activity per day than from sixty minutes of homework per day? That’s the bottom line.

What do you think? Is the pressure to complete homework each day in your program taking away from this vital part of education and life?