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. Thanks again all for the input.

    On the recommendation of one of my son’s former teachers, we are going to try to check out a 4th grade math text so that I can enrich his math experience at home. I am a former math teacher, so I think we can cover the material adequately. This way we can cover the more advanced concepts that will challenge him without killing his excitement with hours of homework each night. Maybe this is not an ideal situation, but we have to take steps in the best interest of our child.

    As an unrelated side note, I had to give up teaching years ago because I could no longer afford to make so little — what does that say about our system!

    Dave

    Like

  2. FedUpMom, that paragraph says it all. Not too long ago I read that for gifted kids, sometimes slower is the answer, not faster. Slower to go in depth, to go richer, deeper, more contemplative, more complex.. My daughter expresses great disappointment in her overall education. She craves stimulating discussions, project based learning, intense work that leaves her feeling invigorated, not drained. Again, she wants harder not more, harder not more.And I hate this sleep deprivation. But she doesn’t want to leave her current school because it offers her intellectual stimulation, from the other kids.

    I really feel practically her entire education has been hijacked. Isn’t that too sad for words?

    Like

  3. Scroll way above. Milander writes:

    but I do think that homework is important as it can force students to learn how to self-learn such as finding the information they need, discovering new ways of doing a task and being creative in approaching a task.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Force is the operative word here. I honestly do not believe you achieve any of the lofty goals you set forth her if you force. All force gets you is resistance.

    Like

  4. This is ridiculous! Do all of you really think that having homework doesnt do anything? Homework provides a chance to review what the teacher did in class that day, it provides a chance to PRACTICE what the teacher did that day, it sets you up to do better on tests, get better grades, and it helps you remember what you learned outside of a 45 min. time period.

    Like

  5. Nope, anonymous. Homework is an extension of school. Your reasons may have been the original intent but not anymore. My daughter, in a selective magnet school, does homework for at least five hours every night and every second on weekends when she doesn’t have rehearsal. Anything she does of value, anything complicated, anything long range she does at home.

    I do have to question what on earth they are doing in school for seven and a half hours Monday through Friday if this much must come home. That is why I homeschooled. It was a no brainer. Gee, I reasoned, if she’s doing everything at home, may as well make it official. She awoke when she as rested, she ate when she was hungry and she learned at the times of day most optimal to her. Now we have her going to school from 8:30 to 4 and coming home to School #2, sometimes until 2am. You cannot convince me this is a system that works, that this is for the good of the child. I live in constant fear she will completely burn out and do what the other poster’s child has chosen, refuse to go to college.

    Like

  6. I was thrilled to find this site and that so many other parents are experiencing the same problems as I am. I have two boys 17 and 10, both are in academy-type programs here in Virginia, which also has the Standards of Learning Tests. We experience a lot of the same problems that have been mentioned by everyone else. It has gotten to the point I hate to see him get off the bus because I know we will spend the next hour to 3 hours trying to get all his work done. I have spoken to his teachers and don’t seem to get anywhere and the most frustrating thing is that very little of what he does is even collected or looked at by the teachers. It is very disheartening. He used to love to read and now it’s just one more thing that needs to done and kept track of. I would love to present this concept to our school principal and the PTA. Do you have any helpful thoughts on how best to do this without putting people (especially teachers and administrators) on the defensive. I just want my son to be happy again. He has also had more illness this year than ever before. Thanks for your help!

    Like

  7. I have a 9 year old in the 3rd grade and I listen to other parents and their horror stories of the many projects. I want my child to excel, but I want him to be happy and healthy, as well. What can we as parents do?

    Like

  8. I have read all the comments made about homework, and I can see both spectrums.

    One of the major problems that needs to be fixed is the family dynamic. Now, before people get angry at me, look at today’s family…most are two full-time working households, the children are left to their own devices or are at daycare, religion is not a priority, and heaven forbid that a child picks up a book for enjoyment.

    I am sure I angered some people, especially with the religion topic, but what I was trying to say with specific examples is simply that a FAMILY is not that important anymore. Parents, we are guilty of this. Why? Because many of us live outside our means. We have to have the big house, the new car, the newest gadgets…and then we have to give our children everything they want (of course we don’t…but many of us are very guilty!). What ever happened to children earning and saving money to purchase what they want?

    So, when children have homework, which is an extension of what was taught that day, parents get upset because they’re tired from their jobs, and their children are tired and cranky knowing they have homework to do.

    I agree…homework should be minimal. But, think…if you are an athlete, don’t you have to practice your sport in order to get better?

    Family time should be a priortity, homework should be minimal and extend the lessons taught through the day, and people should learn to live within their means.

    Sorry for the soapbox, but the homework ‘issue’ is a fragment of a larger problem.

    P.S. I am sorry, but comment #39-Lizz…this is an example of why lessons need to be PRACTICED at home. Typo’s are ok…everyone does them. However, posting a comment with phonetically spelled words is disturbing-especially on this particular topic.

    Like

  9. I am not opposed to homework. My daughter is in 1st grade in a private school. She has a little bit of homework each night. She just started school so I am not sure how much homework she will have by the end of the school year. I will say that I think that homework, in moderate amounts, does have its benefits. I also like her having homework because it gives me an opportunity to see what she is doing in school. How many times I have asked, “What did you do in school today?” Her reply is “I don’t know”, or “What did you learn today?” only to hear “Nothing.” I think that having homework is important also for the sheer fact that when it is time to go to college, you cannot learn absolutely everything that you need to know in class. You will have to read the material, read your notes from class, etc. in order to be able to pass the tests. If homework is totally eliminated, children will be at a loss when they do have to figure out how to learn on their own. Just my opinion. I do not believe in hours and hours of homework though. It should be age appropriate and there should be some kind of limitation. I don’t know what the right approach is, but I do believe that some homework is necessary.

    Like

  10. Anonymous — Yes, college requires a great deal of independent work. But the students are young adults, and they don’t spend 7 hours a day in class. What’s appropriate for a college student may be completely inappropriate for a first-grader.

    As for letting you know what’s going on in school, how about if the teacher sent the parents a weekly e-mail describing what they did that week? I’d sure prefer that to homework.

    It sounds to me like you’ve been lucky so far — the homework has been minimal, and maybe you’ve got an easygoing child. I hope your luck continues, but if it doesn’t, you know where to find us!

    Like

  11. Illinois teacher — I don’t usually do this, because it is true that everyone has typos from time to time. But if you’re criticizing someone else for phonetic spelling, you should know that curiosity doesn’t “peek”, as you wrote in post #93 on the thread “I Hate Reading Logs.” Curiosity gets “piqued”. It’s a French word meaning
    “to prick”. (Okay, no double entendres!) You can read about it here:

    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pique

    Like

  12. BTW, there’s a poster at Mothering.com looking for support for her no-homework decision. You can find the thread by googling “Mothering support no homework.”

    Like

  13. I was thrilled to know that there’s a school who took this risk. Well, I’m kind of neutral for this time because I’m experiencing lots of works from school and sometimes I hate doing it sometimes I’m excited for the next one. Anyways, I would like to know more about the results of this school’s risk. It’s better if we would have results with the comparison of schools who give homework and those who doesn’t. If no homework is better, then many would know about it and learning doesn’t need to be accompanied with sleepless nights anymore. Sometimes, instead of studying the things I don’t understand I just do homework and getting no benefit in it at all.

    Like

  14. alright, im a student in the 11 grade at wellington heights secondary school in canada, people, listen, homework is useless, if students need to keep remembering things using homework, that means that the teacher is not making things interesting enough to keep the students attention, all homework does is cause headaches and and bad moods, teachers need to understand that not all parents care or have the time to help with homework, nor do they always have the knowledge, someone else mentioned it, but homework nowadays is much harder then in the past, i agree that homework can be given if the work was not completed in class, but homework alone distracts from things that can keep people in a good mood for the next day, trust me, as a student, i know that it would not be necessary if the teachers would make sure they can get there students attention, yelling and assigning homework doesn’t do the job. when a student gets home, they are not thinking “YAY, TIME TO DO HOMEWORK” theres a reason why school work is done at school, its not meant to be done at home. it can make things much easier without homework

    Like

  15. I live in Florida and have two very bright kids. They rarely finish their homework before 10:00 pm every night and many times later than that. I feel like we are missing out on very important family time. My kids don’t have any time to be free or creative. Even holidays are spent doing projects and book reports.

    Like

  16. The really sad thing is that we don’t get a second chance, there’s no “do over” of our family’s life and our childrens’ childhoods. Once it’s over and the kids are onto their adults lives, be it at work or more schooling, they’re adults. And these adults have some really ingrained beliefs now about learning and school and when they have their kids, they are likely to repeat the whole thing all over again.

    Like

  17. Dora –

    It is great that your daughter has such active homework that you can work on together. You have terrific stimulating discussions on the assignments and get quality time out of it. Am I right in assuming that she is an only child?

    I have three children, each with their own assignments on which they need parental assistance. We have one child in weekly soccer, two with weekly piano lessons and one with thrice-weekly karate. We are committed to family dinners and breakfasts. I work as a professor full-time.

    When, do you propose, should I clone myself to do three different interesting adult-assisted assignments?

    Might it be more useful for us to use our family time for family reading and family explorations driven by our and our childrens’ interests?

    Like

  18. I am a student at OHS in MA. I agree that homework is unnessecary (sp?). I go to school for 7 hours a day, then I have to go home and do at least 2 extra hours of homework every night. It is very stressful. How do they expect us to get anywhere in life? Homework leaves no time for things that are much more important. How are students supposed to get jobs when they barely have free time? Personally my family does not have much money so I need to save up to go to college. So I go to work, and by the time I get home I am exhausted. I also take dance classes, and 7 hours a week of that isnt helping either. I am trying to work hard to get a scholarship, but when homework is 50% of the grading it is difficult. It is a vicious cycle! I got to school on monday for 8 hours, then go to work for 4 hours, and then all I have time to do is eat supper and go to bed. Then I have to wake up at 5:30, take a shower, and get to school by 7. (I take the bus, and it comes at 6:30) And go to school again. So just by the end of one day I am already totally burnt out. Add in 2-3 hours of dance classes 3 days a week and I am dead by wednesday. It is physically and mentally exhausting to do this over and over again for 5 days straight every week. I would think going to school from 7 to 2 would be enough. Some people think that its hard to sit in an office for 8 or 9 hours a day, but the average high school student probably has the equivilent of a 12 hour work day every day!

    Like

  19. You make a good point about adults and their work days. I don’t know the exact statistic but the average amount of time an office worker actually spends on work during 8 hours comes out to be very low….roughly half the time I think. I might be wrong..but it’s nowhere near the time kids spend in school.

    Human beings are abysmal at focussing their attention for long periods of time….a good lecture or public talk is less than an hour because anything over that is a waste of time. The speaker loses people ..if they really have something important to say, the good public speakers keep it brief.

    Like

  20. I am a seventh grader that is litterally forced by his parents to do an hour and a half of homework a night. I and everyone i talk to thinks this is ridiculous. i need a way out! i have no time during the day to play with friends or do anything other than homework. i need more of a life than just stupid assignments about things i learned a year ago. i need help please.

    Like

  21. Stop being little whinny bitches and do the work. Wait til you get to college, you will find out it will only help in the long run.

    Like

  22. Hi Jaidyn,

    Sadly, there are very few schools in the United States with no homework. I’d like to hear more about what you’re trying to do, what grade you’re in, whether you have any support, etc. If you prefer, email me privately at

    –Sara

    Like

  23. I’m all for the things on the list that replace the homework, because they promote a healthy balance of physical, social and academic abilities. I strongly believe that school should not have a strictly academic focus and the school mentioned seems to be progressive in that respect.

    Having said that, with only 5 days of study per week, kids can have quite a bit of homework and still have time to play. The hardest part is keeping them away from the television and the video games (see TV Diet) and then they have enough time for everything else, including homework.

    I think homework reinforces the skills learned in class and builds some other ones, such as self discipline.

    The best solution might be to survey the students’ home situations and assess the impact of a no-homework policy, as in some places, unfortunately, it may be good for kids to stay indoors and engage in something productive.

    Bold move, but is it for everyone?

    Ronit

    Like

  24. I agree that homework should not be given, but the idea of finishing work that was not done in class sounds fine…although I could see teachers giving long assignments with the expectations that the child will not finish them in class.
    Having children work on their skills in class is much more effective; the teachers are available to help. In some cases, the parents might not be able to help and the child gets scolded for not finishing their homework but in reality they just needed some guidance. Discouraging and stressful!!
    No homework does not mean no studying.

    Like

  25. This idea is great every night my child goes to sleep late due to homework and his health is getting bad because when its dinner he always says i am doing homework and does not eat dinner sometimes

    Like

  26. Schools teach enough information during the day. The brain can only handle so much input. The body needs sleep to function! Duh! Homework = stay up late. The schools want the kids in real early and if you go to bed at 11:00 or 12:00 and get up at 5:30 or 6:00, thats very little sleep.

    Like

  27. And there is so much cognitive impairment when high schoolers are consistently sleep deprived. Many of our students are earnest, hard working, aiming to please. They are good kids. Why sacrifice their entire next day on the alter of homework? What is the point?

    Sit down with parents and decide what’s needed. Use the day wisely. More and more assignments does not equal more and more learning. When kids have no time to reflect, to process, to learn, to assimilate what this means, how it connects, they become robo student. And how much do they truly retain? Test them on the AP, unannounced, in September and you’ll have your answer.

    Like

  28. Correction. DO not equal. I just cannot get it right today. Sleep deprivation, you see. Exhibit A. Okay, that’s my sign to get out of here for a while!

    Like

  29. i am agree because –
    this is a foundation age and they should play in this age

    ‘ BAN ON GIVING HOMEWORK TO PRIMARY CLASSES’

    Like

  30. i am agree because –
    this is a foundation age and they should play in this age

    ‘ BAN ON GIVING HOMEWORK TO PRIMARY CLASSES’

    Like

  31. Hi everyone, Im a single, stay at home mother from England (I know this nowhere near where you are) but all the same, I have a 5 year old son, he has been given homework a few times and has reading to do every night. His school day ends at 3:15pm (our time) and he goes to bed at 7pm. By the time I get him home from school this gives us 3 and a half hours to read, have dinner, bath and get ready for bed, and also give him some time to play and wind down. I dont think such young children should have homework to do, I mean, this amount of time for one child? – imagine if I had 2 or 3 children! Its unfair, young children learn more through playing, not sitting quietly and doing homework. I think what this teacher and school in Wyoming is doing is fantastic and I wish them all the best. Maybe soon we will have such caring and thoughtful teachers over here? keep up the great work!

    Like

  32. Best you should change the webpage name title Stop Homework » Wyoming Elementary School Eliminates Homework to something more suited for your subject you make. I enjoyed the post nevertheless.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: