And so it goes. A new school year has begun. The late to bed, late to rise has given way to a more structured schedule. Screen time has given way to anything but.
Eventually, as the semester gets underway, homework will commence. Last year my then second-grader had more than her then fourth-grade brother; she’d easily spend an hour and a half on it. It was hard to tell how much time she really had to spend each night per subject, as she wasted a great deal of time complaining about the amount of work. Regardless, the math worksheets were daunting, and the spelling exercises laborious. Even without the “complaint time,” the amount of time spent far exceeded the school district’s new homework policy for second graders of 10 minutes per night for all subjects combined, plus 15 minutes for independent reading.
When the teachers realized this (as in, I brought it to their attention after one particularly miserable week), they made adjustments, having her do what she was comfortable with. If she started stressing out, I was to have her stop. Having that “escape clause” helped. Twice she used it. Otherwise, she did her homework, without too much complaint, for the rest of the year. I’m hoping—for her sake and mine—that this year will be better.
Last year the school implemented its new approach to homework, with an emphasis on less. My son’s fourth-grade teachers seemed to have gotten the message: they really stuck to their guidelines of 20 minutes per night, plus 20 minutes of reading (though occasionally some of his math did exceed 20 minutes; but my son loves math and didn’t mind).
The reason behind their school’s new homework policy? Studies have shown that homework has little or no correlation with academic success in elementary school. Additionally, large amounts of homework have a negative impact on learning in all grades.
Gaithersburg Elementary School in Maryland has been in the news lately for taking things a step further: abolishing all “traditional” homework; instead, teachers ask students to read for at least 30 minutes each night. Assessments taken last spring—the first since the new policy was implemented—were mixed: the percentage of third graders passing the Maryland School Assessment reading test dropped by 12 percent; the fourth-grade pass-rate remained unchanged; and the fifth grade scores increased by three percentage points to 84 percent proficiency. Reporters have pointed out that the numbers are impressive as 70 percent of Gaithersburg’s students come from non-English speaking households.
I want to see all those kids at Gaithersburg succeed. I’d also like to see their math assessment scores. And I want to see if another elementary school has also stopped assigning homework and if so, how its students are faring.
Yeah. I’m living vicariously through my daughter. And for her, I’m ever hopeful that this no-homework trend might take off.
- Gaithersburg Elementary School abolishes homework (educationviews.org)