I just learned from the principal of Grant Elementary School in Glenrock, Wyoming, that her school is implementing a no homework practice. The school came to that decision after examining homework and having discussions with Kim Bevill of Brain Basics, who provided them with materials about homework. Kim, a dynamo, teaches social studies and psychology in a Colorado high school, owns and operate Gray Matters (whose goal is to “re-ignite learning in every classroom using brain-compatible curriculum to further academic achievement”), hosts a yearly conference entitled Brain Basics, and, most importantly, is a passionate advocate against homework. I have enjoyed many conversations with Kim this year.
Here’s the principal’s letter to the parents explaining the new policy:
Over the years we have seen that with the increased pressure in meeting AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress), homework has also increased. This increase may have come in response to the call for higher expectations, comparisons of American student performance with the children from European and Asian countries, and the pressures created with state testing programs such as PAWS.
With that being said, the research is unable to produce evidence that homework improves student performance. The research is telling us that if we want to improve attitudes, mental and physical health and academic performance, we as parents need to promote the following 5 things:
• Children need to play outside for at least an hour after the school day. They should be at the point where they are almost sweating.
• Dinner with your family every night or at least 4 times a week. This is shown to decrease eating disorders in females, decrease smoking and drug abuse rates in males and recent research suggests it teaches life-long good eating habits—more fruits and vegetables.
• Early to bed. Research suggests that children need 10-12 hours of sleep a day to be ready to learn.
• Limited television, video games and computer time, especially an hour before bed time.
• Reading time every evening. This is a great time for the whole family to sit and read together.
At Grant this semester we are trying something new. Homework will only consist of work students did not finish during the school day. However, if a child is bringing homework home on a regular basis then we will have a parent meeting to see why the child is not getting the material done during school. At semester our staff will review how our students are doing with these new guidelines.
We are going to ask that parents help us promote reading at home. Our school wide reading program, “Splish Splash,” will be a great way to encourage reading and will provide monthly reading incentives. Our children are making great gains in the area of reading. A key component to making these gains is the work that parents and children do at home. We do thank you for your help.
We would love to hear from you on your thoughts about homework as we explore some new guidelines. Again, thanks for everything you do to help our children, staff and school be a great place for learning.
Christine Hendricks, Principal
Grant Elementary Teachers and Staff