Freeing families from the homework burden may yield surprising results
Writing for Edutopia, 2nd grade teacher Jacqueline Florentino shares the experiences she had in her classroom when she did away with homework.
Without homework assignments, some students voluntarily engaged in learning projects on their own and participated in more outside activities.
Florentino outlines a five-part plan to “break the homework habit,“ including engaging parents in the learning process, encouraging extra reading and providing ideas for volunteer projects.
As school districts struggle to compete academically in a world of educational options and global pressures, it is natural to assume that the more work students complete at home, the more they will achieve. However, a growing number of studies are indicating that too much homework affects student health and can have a detrimental effect on attitudes toward school in elementary school especially. A 2014 Stanford study of high-performing schools in California also showed that more than two hours of homework a night at the high school level resulted in negative effects on student well-being.
Today's homework assignments also increasingly require computer and W-Fi access, especially in schools with one-to-one initiatives. Teachers may assume that students have what they need to complete homework assignments when they do not. In 2015 Education Week reported that “nationally, the Federal Communications Commission notes that seven out of 10 teachers assign homework that requires high-speed Internet access, yet in some communities, only one in three students can access the Web at home.” These situations, which tend to affect rural school districts more than urban ones, create a homework inequity that can impact students academically and socially
The homework debate is driving some school superintendents to ban homework, at least on the elementary level, and encourage at-home reading instead. Homework is an area in which superintendents need to provide clear direction for teachers in order to avoid access issues and to establish clear boundaries for time limits and content. The goal should be to create homework scenarios that are balanced and intentional, rather than needless busywork. Some school districts, such as the Schalmont Central School District in New York, post homework guidelines with clear expectations of the roles parents, teachers and student play. Such clear policies may help school districts win the homework battle.