Several times over the past year, Diane Hewlett-Lowrie of Plumsted, New Jersey, wrote about the overwhelming amounts of homework her second grader was getting in his local public school and the toll it was taking on her family. In January, she moved her son to a democratic community school. Last week, she wrote to the School Superintendent of her son’s former school (and cc’d his former teacher and principal) to tell them how her son was doing at his new school. (You can read her earlier posts here, here, here and here.)
A Home Without Homework
by Diane Hewlett-Lowrie
Dear School Superintendent,
As I sat down to write to you, I figured out how long my son has been going to his new school and am surprised to realize it has been over four months! Wow, four blissful months without homework – how time flies when you are enjoying life!
As you know, my family had a philosophical difference of opinion with the amount of homework our 6, then 7-year-old son was getting – 45 minutes to 2 hours, several times a week. The homework issue, along with the impending years of statewide testing, the years of being taught how to pass the test, reduced recess, and the regimented atmosphere of the public school system were all factors in our decision to try something different. We looked into Montessori, but decided upon a democratic community school which, coincidently, was only 10 minutes from my office! The homework policy for this school is that there may be one or two home-related assignments in the academic year and if the children don’t get their daily math assignment finished, they have to bring it home to complete. [My son has had to do this twice, with absolutely no trouble. He took responsibility for completing the assignments and just did them.]
My son loves his new school. I tried to get him to play hooky with me on Inauguration Day, but he refused; he would not take the day off school in case he missed something! Now we have been there for 4 months, I can safely say, on the homework issue alone, there is a huge difference in our quality of life. I drive home from work looking forward to spending a relaxing, or exciting, evening with my family. I no longer have “that sinking feeling” when I reach the halfway point knowing that a folder full of papers, notices and assignments are awaiting me and my son.
My dining room table no longer doubles as a school desk – we can eat
food there now. Stress and tension over school work are gone! My son and I rarely argue any more. Tears are reduced to an absolute minimum and reserved for issues more important than schoolwork. We can pick and choose our evening activities.What Freedom!!! In the winter months, my son went to swimming lessons, tried fencing, and learned how to play chess and “Stratego”. Now, with the good weather, he is spending most of his free time outside. Yesterday, we rode our bikes to the stream and 4 boys armed with fishing nets went searching for frogs. Tonight they are looking for food for the frogs (We’ll release them tomorrow). Any minute now his friends will be called inside for homework and my son will come in to do a couple of chores, relax, get to bed early, and read another chapter of his book.
I am not at all concerned about the fact that he has no homework. I think the way he is spending his time now will, in the long run, be much more beneficial to his overall development. By spending his free time playing with other children, exploring nature and reading books for pleasure, he is advancing his “21st Century Skills” (creativity, innovative thinking, problem-solving, communication, and collaboration). He’s seven, sociable, smart and happy, loves school, and is reading “The Hobbit”; what more could I want for him at this age?!?!
In short, our Home-without-Homework is a Happy Home and a young boy without homework is a creative, fulfilled, energetic, problem-solving, fun-loving, fit, healthy, and happy boy! We feel free again … I wish this upon all young children and families everywhere!!!!!
Thank you for taking the time to listen to our views last year. I wish you all the best in your career with Plumsted Schools.