Something new happened at our elementary school this year. The principal implemented a school-wide rule: no homework. No worksheets, no book reports, no times table drills. No homework for the kindergarteners, no homework for the 5th graders, no homework for all the grades in between. Nothing.
Well not nothing. Families are still asked to read with their kids on a daily basis. But that’s it. And that doesn’t really feel like homework. It feels like our normal bedtime routine.
Our school is not alone. You may have read this article in Time, which discusses the idea that our societal reactions to homework are cyclical. We swing from demanding more homework, to refusing to do any at all. And right now, the societal trend is toward less homework. Especially for elementary school kids, because research hasn’t been able to show a correlation between homework and better learning at young ages.
We’re now 3 months into the school year and I’ve had a chance to see how it has affected our kids and our family time. Here’s what I’ve observed.
– After school, evenings and mornings are definitely less stressful. No question. There is more time to just hang out and be a family. I notice there’s more playing both in and out of the house, and we bake a lot more than we have before. I also feel like the kids help out more around the house. I can also say the kids have practiced their music more this school year than ever before.
– Last year, Betty would get particularly stressed out by homework. She wanted to get it done on time and to do it perfectly. It’s not even that the homework assignments were too much last year, it’s just that on busy days with gymnastics or music lessons — or even just those days where there are interruptions to the schedule, like houseguests — homework might get pushed aside till the evening, and by then she was too tired and it felt like a heavy burden. Tears and mental flagellation were practically guaranteed. So it’s been amazing to have the stress completely eliminated.
– In contrast, Oscar and Olive still have homework, and it still causes stress, but not daily. This is Oscar’s first year of middle school, and Olive’s first year of high school, and some of the stress is simply growing pains as they adjust to new expectations and a new workload. But some of it is just stress because the homework is burdensome.
– For June’s 1st grade class, the teacher sends home a weekly report of what the class has been learning, and suggestions on how to further that learning at home. But there’s no checklist or requirements. If you’re a parent that feels like homework is a benefit, these notes provide plenty of ideas that you can implement yourself.
– For Betty’s 5th grade class, we were told there would be at least one special project that would require some at-home creativity and work. Oscar had the same teacher last year, and I know what the project is, so that doesn’t stress me out. But maybe it will when the assignment actually arrives.
– We haven’t received report cards yet, and I don’t know how teachers are feeling about the new policy. Is it easier for them? Do they feel like the students are still thriving? Or have they seen a drop in progress compared to other years? I’m sure they will let us know. But from my parental standpoint, my kids seem to be learning as usual.
– I’m for sure a fan of the new no homework policy and have thanked the principal personally for implementing it. I know there’s been some pushback. But wow, it has been hugely beneficial for our family in very real ways. That said, I completely understand that all families are different and may see this new policy as a big loss.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. What’s the homework policy this year at your elementary school? How would you feel if they got rid of homework altogether? Would you embrace it or would it stress you out?