What happened when one school banned homework — and asked kids to read and play instead

As the homework conversation continues in Flagler Schools, it’s worth reading the recent article about what happens when schools stop giving homework. Continue Reading 

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AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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Why as a parent, I dread homework

Emma We read the letter a Texas teacher sent home to parents about her decision not to assign homework this year. She said “After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.” She went on saying “research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance” and urged them to “spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success,” such as spending time together as a family, playing outside, and getting to bed early.

Her message went viral, shared over 68,000 times, parents admired her, the Internet gave her an A+ and she became a hero overnight. She isn’t the first teacher to eliminate homework, we have a homework hero here in Flagler Schools too, and in 2014 entire schools in Massachusetts adopted a “No Homework” policy.
“The research clearly shows that there is no correlation between academic achievement and homework, especially in lower grades,” says Denise Pope, senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education.
Younger students do not benefit academically from homework and even among younger adolescents the success it’s small or non-existent. The Texas teacher recognized the research thus her choice not to give homework anymore.

So, why are Flagler Schools agonizing young students with homework? Because in my house, homework often is nothing but misery. Children spend seven hours in school and they are still required to do homework, which, according to Flagler School’s policy should be no more than half an hour per day. But homework is never half an hour. Educators say homework is necessary to reinforce the lessons learned during the school day. And if kids didn’t understand the concept covered in class, homework becomes a teaching tool for parents. Without textbooks, access to digital textbooks, without knowledge of what our children learning in school, parents are googling unfamiliar terms, frantically searching for answers, browsing YouTube videos and tweeting to anyone accessible on Twitter in hope for help. This is when homework becomes grueling for children, frustrating for parents and utterly dreadful for the whole family. When you found the YouTube video and figured out how Common Core wants your child to learn subtraction, now it’s your time to teach them. After two and a half hour of homework, we are all exhausted and miserable. It robbed us of family time, the time to connect and relax together and reduced spending time to read for pleasure, the one thing we know has a correlation with academic achievement.

School administrators argue homework that requires interaction between parents and students may increase parent involvement. However, studies have shown no link between parent involvement in homework and student achievement. They also claim teaches executive functioning skills like planning, prioritizing and setting goals. But students can learn that during the school day and at home through hobbies and chores.
How about the kids whose parents don’t have the time or resources to help with nightly studies? Aren’t we penalizing them by having grades depend on homework?

Students work hard all day. They need time to play and relax. We cannot forget the importance of play. Playtime is learning, kids learn to solve problems, resolve conflict and enhance their creativity. In fact, playing is crucial for a healthy brain development. Homework kills playtime. Let’s get rid of homework.

  1. Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research, 1987-2003
  2. What research says about the value of homework: Research Review
  3. Homework: An unnecessary evil?….Surprising findings from new research 
  4. The Decline of Play and Rise in Children’s Mental Disorders