Kerry Dickinson, the Danville, California mom who helped change homework policy in her school district last year, put me in touch with Debbie Cohune, a mother of four, who recently moved to Boulder, Colorado, from Danville. To Debbie’s delight, she discovered that her children’s new schools-elementary, middle, and high–have little to no homework. Here’s what she told me:
The most amazing part of my kids middle school is the “back to school night” philosophy had an emphasis on “how we are going to teach your children” rather than “how we are going to grade your children” as was our Danville experience. One of the science teachers said “I have your children for 50 minutes a day and I think that is enough. After school should be reserved for family time and outside interests. Also, there is no late work in my class. All work must be completed and turned in, but I don’t care how fast your children learn, but rather that they learn.”
My children are all required to read 20 minutes each night. Homework is any work that they did not complete in class. They have time in class to work on daily assignments (and have the ability to ask questions to their teachers when they are confused) and projects. If they do not complete the work in class they bring it home to finish. The after school load is no more than 30 minutes plus reading. Some days there is only reading.
In Danville we spent several hours a day with weekly tutors to finish homework. The kids were stressed, I was stressed and their grades suffered. They were teaching to the test which is an environment that my children to not do well in. Boulder Valley School District has not as of yet succumbed to that philosophy and as a result my children are again excited about learning. They actually come home from school and tell me what they learned today. I must say that never happened in Danville.