Education

One Florida county has eliminated homework for elementary school students

Children in a Kindergarten class read during class at Henry S. West Laboratory School in Coral Gables. As part of the national push to rethink homework, the K-8 school has instituted a new policy this year to significantly decrease the amount of homework given to students. Instead, the school is encouraging parents to spend more "quality, unstructured time" at home with their children in the evenings.
Children in a Kindergarten class read during class at Henry S. West Laboratory School in Coral Gables. As part of the national push to rethink homework, the K-8 school has instituted a new policy this year to significantly decrease the amount of homework given to students. Instead, the school is encouraging parents to spend more "quality, unstructured time" at home with their children in the evenings. Miami Herald File

Elementary schools in Marion County will say goodbye to everyday homework in the coming school year after Superintendent Heidi Maier said research shows it does not enhance learning.

Maier, who took office in November, notified parents and teachers of the change at the district’s 31 elementary schools on Wednesday via automated phone message. The new rule will not apply to high school and middle school students.

District public information officer Kevin Christian says the district is calling on parents to replace traditional homework assignments with 20-minute reading sessions in hopes of “getting parents and students involved in something they can do together and enjoy.”

READ MORE: One Miami-Dade school says no to homework; will others follow?

The research Maier cites was conducted by University of Tennessee professor Richard Allington, who specializes in theory and practice in teacher education. The crux of his findings? Reading to a child has more benefits than homework.

Christian summarized the research this way: “Homework for the sake of homework is not advantageous for a student. It isn’t constructive and doesn’t provide a meaningful learning experience.”

He said district leaders would instead like to see bonding time happen between students and their parents, as well as give students the freedom to consume material that genuinely interests them. When it comes to how students learn, he said, “we want them to own it.”

When asked if doing away with homework will slow the pace of learning, Christian noted that less homework should translate to more teaching time in the classroom, as teachers will not be as tied up with grading assignments.

READ MORE: Homework battle pits parents against teachers at School Board meeting

Teachers will still have the authority to assign homework, but will be encouraged to do so sparingly and only for larger projects, like the science fair, Christian said.

The district plans to use its electronic flyer service and automated voice messages to remind parents of the new initiative throughout the school year. Those who need help picking reading material can contact their child’s school media center for recommendations.

“We believe it is going to enhance what is already going on in the classroom,” he said, adding that the district has received no negative comments about the change.

READ MORE: New school year, same homework battles

  Comments