Wyoming Elementary School Eliminates Homework

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:

Dear Parents,

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.

Sincerely,

Christine Hendricks, Principal
Grant Elementary Teachers and Staff

130 thoughts on “Wyoming Elementary School Eliminates Homework

  1. Great that they are eliminating homework, but they have no business “suggesting” what parents do at home. My kid does well sleeping eight and a half hours. Really. You don’t know how my kid spends his computer time and I won’t interrupt him to “limit” the computer time when he’s writing a story in word, thank you very much. We’re in Canada, some days it simply too cold to play outside for an hour every day. We read together, but no not every single day.

    All of these parents who claim that they do each and every one of those things are lying!

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  2. I agree with no/minimal homework for younger children, and much less homework for older students. (I do see the value of writing papers and also memorizing some stuff for foreign languages.) Could all this homework be one of the reasons we have an epidemic of obesity among out children? I wonder if anyone has made this connection before.

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  3. I’m a highschool freshman in the U.S. and i think a no homework policy is definitly not a good idea. Speaking as a student, school is a lot different now a days and kids need to have their minds stimulated every day to keep them on track.(Maybe we should have more hands on learning experieces?) I’m not saying they should have 2-3 hours of homework such as older kids (like me- i take 11th grade classes) but they should have a DECREASED amount. Teens like me need their sleep. I stay up very late to get it all done and it effects me at school. Especially when many highschool students (again like me) are in sports with practices up to 4 hours in length.

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  4. This subject has been very interesting to me for years. I am a distance student getting my Master’s in Special Education through Bemidji State University in Minnesota. My Final paper is on Homework Harmful or Helpful, my results so far have been very even on the pros and cons of homework. I did not realize that we have such a diverse idea of what homework does or doesn’t do for students. At this time in my paper it is fairly even for and against. In doing my research I found this site to be somewhat helpful to see what people around the world are saying about homework and to think it started in a small town in Wyoming.

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  5. Unfortunately this Principal is no longer at this school — and neither is her policy. 😦

    From their School Handbook for the 2011 school year:

    “HOMEWORK POLICY
    The staff at Grant School believes that the assignment of homework will help students develop responsibility and
    good study habits. Both of these skills are very valuable to your child?s success in school and in the real world
    outside of school. Therefore, we have developed a policy for homework. We welcome your suggestions regarding
    this policy and the extended learning opportunities described below. If you would be interested in helping students
    on a voluntary basis during our extended learning times, please contact the school.
    Homework will be assigned Monday through Thursday at every grade level. The amount of homework will vary
    from night to night, but generally will not be more than 10 minutes per grade level (i.e. first grade 10 minutes – fifth
    grade 50 minutes). Homework envelopes, folders or planners will be sent home with students with the homework
    enclosed. These folders or planners will need to be returned the next day with the homework completed. Those 10
    students, who do not complete their homework, may be required to stay in at recess to complete their work or
    assigned to an extended learning time, which will be provided over the noon hour or after school. Students who
    lose their envelope, folder or planner may be charged for a new one.
    WE ALL FORGET THINGS ON OCCASION AND OUR STUDENTS MAY TOO. BUT, WE DO NOT WANT TO
    BAIL THEM OUT EVERY TIME THEY FORGET SOMETHING. THEREFORE, STUDENTS WILL BE ALLOWED
    TO CALL HOME ONCE DURING EACH QUARTER, IF THEY HAPPEN TO FORGET TO BRING WORK BACK TO
    SCHOOL. If homework is not returned, it will be handled as if it was not completed and the student will be required
    to stay in at recess, at lunchtime, or after school to complete the work.
    The extended learning time is in no way meant to replace the classroom teacher, rather support what goes on in
    the classroom. Teachers will continue to work with students throughout the day, during recess breaks as well as
    before and after school to assist them if they are having difficulty. We would like to thank you, the parents, for your
    support and encourage you to continue to stress the importance of good study skills and responsibility. ”

    I’m very curious about the results of Principal Hendricks experiment. Was her policy cancelled because of poor results or politics? Does anyone have any information on this? If so please share it with the stophomework.com community.

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  6. Wow, that’s really discouraging. Notice how the new policy is full of punishments for the kids who don’t comply. They spend more time planning punishment than they do figuring out what the homework is good for. Yikes.

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  7. It is very discouraging…and a definite step backward.

    I love that part about “calling home”. Hello? It’s 2011, who the heck do they think is home in most households to be receiving the call. The housekeeper? ….Mom is not home, in her robe and slippers, curlers in hair, having her morning coffee while reading the paper. She’s not there to get the call from Susie asking if Mommy could bring her homework to school. Mom’s been at work for two hours already!

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  8. As far as I know, the no-homework policy was very successful and I’m sorry to hear it was changed. I know that Christine Hendricks moved out of state. I guess, without her leadership, the school decided not to be in the forefront anymore. This happened over a decade ago in New Jersey. When Ronald Bolandi was the school superintendent in Piscataway, New Jersey, he was in the forefront of changing homework policy and sparked a nationwide discussion. But when he moved to another district, Piscataway went back to its old ways.

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  9. Move to New Zealand folks! My daughter’s teacher (3rd grade) refused to give me any homework for her, citing research suggesting thta children should spend the time playing, doing sports or art and shock, horror, helping out at home doing chores.

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  10. Rebecca, playing, sports, art, and household chores? My, what a waste of time! A child rested, falling in love with nature, discovering, growing, learning, playing. And becoming cultured to boot? Wait, we are going to put psychologists out of work. We cannot have this! We will raise ungrateful irresponsible children. Helping with chores at home? Now, why would we expect THAT?

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  11. Rebecca..I would love to know what research this third grade teacher is citing. We need all the evidence we can get.
    I’m so frustrated with our school right now, I’d love to move to New Zealand.

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  12. In an age where there are so many threats to children (sex, drugs, isolation) and the family ‘unit,” all this homework does is erode the bond between parents and children, as well as further promote a lack of exercise.

    To be frank, I’d personally prefer my children to learn basic math facts (not teaching a third grader the definition of the commutative property), reading and writing. That’s all. No save the rainforest or the importance of recycling, no monthly class party. They can learn all those other things if they can read.

    My friends that home school, have kids that test higher, and work about 6 hours less than my kids. If only I could afford it. That and I’m concerned my kids won’t have the social experiences they get at school, both good and bad.

    Grr.. I’d have like to seen the scores from the WY school after no homework.

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  13. I am not a parent yet, in fact, I just graduated college (where homework sucks, if not equally, more so than in these age groups, but is valid given that college is optional higher education). I have ALWAYS been against homework. And when I am a parent I will advocate for my children to the end about their homework, even if that means they simply don’t do it. As long as we’re happy, active, spending time together doing other intellectually stimulating activities and well-rested, school will stay at school just like work stays at work.

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  14. When I originally commented I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a
    comment is added I receive 4 emails with the same comment.
    Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service?
    Many thanks!

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  15. Umm… im in 6th grade and I disagree. Homework is a practice for people that cant ace certain subjects. I, myself, am a student and disagree with this policy. I stumbled apon this when I was researching for my argumentative essay. The topic is,” Should students have homework or no homework?” I took the yes side, yes homework should be there for us. I understand that one of these comments said that someone did not do homework but aced the tests. He surely porbably studied, but he wouldnt have to study if he did his homework. Another benifit of homework is doing good on tests. I study for tests, and showing from results… most people who study score better on tests. People use study guides to study most of the time but 40% of people use homework to study, belive it or not. Look at the statistics.

    Not trying to be rude,

    Marisa 6th grader

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