Last month, lucky students got the surprise of their lives when they received word that their school was doing away with homework and asking students to use that time to read and play instead. While some parents may disagree, many experts think this move is a step in the right direction.
Parents of the students from New York City's P.S. 116 elementary school received a letter last month from Jane Hsu, the school's principal, that said: “[t]he topic of homework has received a lot of attention lately, and the negative effects of homework have been well established. They include: children’s frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and family time and, sadly, for many, loss of interest in learning.”
Hsu went on to explain that teachers at P.S. 116 would no longer be assigning homework to their students. But she doesn't just write students a blank check to zone out in front of the TV after school. In fact, Hsu specifically recommends that parents limit kids' exposure to television, computer games and other screens. Rather, she explained that after a year of studying the effects of traditional homework, school administrators decided that it was more important for students to do activities that “have been proven to have a positive impact on student academic performance and social/emotional development.” Those activities include reading and playing.
According to Fox News and DNAinfo, some parents are unhappy with the decision, saying their kids are missing out on precious learning time in a competitive academic environment or worried that they may lose touch with what their kids are learning if they don't have homework to review with them.
But in the age of Common Core and over-testing, many education experts see this as a common sense idea. In a statement published on DNAinfo, Hsu responded to those who are critical of the school's new policy, saying:
“We are creating opportunities for students and their families to engage in activities that research has proven to benefit academic and social-emotional success in the elementary grades. We look forward to seeing the positive impact our newly-designed homework options will have on our students and their families.”
While Hsu and her colleagues are still in the minority when it comes to homework policies, it looks like opinion might be shifting in their favor. At present, a discussion on Debate.org found that 63 percent of respondents are in favor of abolishing homework for students.
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