The Milleys Capture Canada (and the U.S. and U.K. as well)

The day I wrote about the Milleys, parents from Calgary, Canada, who negotiated a contract with their children’s school allowing their children to opt-out of homework, the national press asked me to put it in touch with the Milleys. Since then, the Canadian newspapers, radio, and TV have reported the story, all of the coverage positive and supportive.

I happened to be in Toronto last week and was thrilled to open the Toronto Globe and Mail to discover an editorial, Peace on the Home Front, supporting the Milleys and suggesting that “school boards could easily curtail homework until Grade 9 without fear of educational harm. Younger students could thus be encouraged to read at home, play sports or music and spend more stress-free time with their family.”

I was also thrilled to read another piece in the Globe and Mail, More Homework Rebels Speak Out, interviewing the people I suggested to the reporter and all of whom are familiar to regular readers of Stop Homework, Frank Bruni (the moving force behind Toronto’s improved homework policy, instituted over a year ago), Amanda Cockshutt (a mother from New Brunswick, Canada, who was instrumental in getting her local school to institute no homework nights and 2 homework free weeks per year), and the Milleys. You can also listen to Frank Bruni on this radio show.

I also caught Jan Olson, the principal of the Barrie, Canada elementary school that doesn’t assign homework on CTV. And, of course, the Calgary newspapers also had lots of coverage, including this piece in the Calgary Herald.

Here again is the Milleys opt-out plan.

12 thoughts on “The Milleys Capture Canada (and the U.S. and U.K. as well)

  1. Thanks to the Milley’s who started the discussion in Canada.

    On a CBC call-in show on Sunday, the topic was discussed and many teachers called in, most opposed to homework which was good to hear. One person called in who was pro-homework but not ardently so, but he used the term “young adult” when he was referring (I think) to kids in middle school and high school. He probably didn’t mean to but he did.
    And this is, in my view, part of the problem. Kids in school are seen to need to be prepared by middle and high school teachers for adulthood because they are “young adults”…but they are not. The whole goal of school seems to be to prep for adulthood and jobs and chaining oneself to a desk starts in Kindergarten. With this view, it’s seems to be reasonable to give adult like work…I don’t think that’s a correct leap.


  2. This happens at our middle school. Some of my older son’s teachers refer to the kids as “young men” and “young women.” They’re 12!

    This gets at the odd developmental “upside-downing” some of us were talking about in another thread. You’re supposed to be a kid first, then an adult. If we expect kids to be adults when they’re kids, we’d better be prepared for them to act like kids when they’re adults. And I don’t mean in a “good” way.

    There are many very precocious kids now–you should have seen all the phoning, texting & gossiping (“she dumped him!” “he asked her out!”) at a table of 10 y.o.s next to the boys & me when we stopped for a snack last week. They may appear more mature than they are, but that’s a facade. They’re kids inside.

    But Sara, that wave of positive press is incredible! I saw “More Homework Rebels Speak Out” last night and was so excited. First Canada, then (praying) the U.S….?

    ~~~join the discussion:


  3. Mary, I don’t even think ten year olds should have cell phones. I didn’t get mine one until she was fifteen. It’s all part of The Hurried Child (David Elkind) and just another way to rob them of their youth.

    Many children I know get rewarded for doing homework. These parents clearly must feel it is the only way they could get their kids to do it. So over the years, it was mind boggling how much stuff these children amassed, electronics of every mode and stripe. These kids had everything their little hearts desired. Except play, outdoors, downtime and family hours.


  4. This is fantastic! Thank you so much for reporting on this very important topic. Home time is for family not for work. Our kids have the rest of their lives for work. The schools should not dictate how families spend their time.


  5. This is wonderful news!!! How can we hire the Milley’s or, how do we fight our private school in Dallas, Texas?

    Our 10 year old is given 2 to 5 hours of homework each night. This is so very stressful for our young child. Most of the time the teachers don’t even look at the homework and almost never give a grade. They just want to see if “all of this busy work” has been done.

    Meanwhile this is killing our child and our family. Her entire personality has changed. She is an A student that hates school! She even had to drop out of piano lessons because we couldn’t find one hour a week in her schedule.

    We spoke with the teachers and the principle and they say that other parents are begging for more home work….It is almost impossible to believe this!!

    Help! what should we do???


  6. Barbara, your experience mirrors ours. My child is not in 5th grade anymore but I remember this well. 6th grade, hate to tell you, was even worse.


  7. Barbara says:

    We spoke with the teach­ers and the prin­ci­ple and they say that other par­ents are beg­ging for more home work.…It is almost impos­si­ble to believe this!!

    Barbara, take a look at the post about “parent triangulation” at kitchen table math.

    The light bulb moment is here:

    Those other parents, the ones who always got what they wanted while we never got what we wanted, did not exist. They were a simple rhetorical ploy …

    Probably every parent who posts to this site has had the same conversation with teachers and administrators. It’s the all-purpose answer to prevent any change whatsoever. “You say you want x? We’ve got other parents demanding not-x!”

    The surprise for me is that a private school is giving you the runaround. In this economy, I would think they would try to keep you happy.

    Our 10 year old is given 2 to 5 hours of home­work each night. This is so very stress­ful for our young child.

    … Help! what should we do???

    First of all, save your child. It is not worth making her childhood a misery. Put her back in piano lessons. Set a time limit for the homework (Harris Cooper says 50 minutes MAXIMUM for a 5th grader) and stick to it. Let the school know in no uncertain terms that you will not accept your child being punished for undone homework. She’s your child, this is your family life. Take charge.

    You will probably need another meeting with the teacher and/or principal. This time, when they start off about all those other parents, stick to your guns. Tell them the homework load is wrecking your family life. If some other parents want more homework, they are welcome to it.

    Start applying to other schools. There’s got to be something better than paying the big bucks so your child can be miserable and hate school.

    I’m with HWB. If it’s this bad in 5th grade, it will only get worse. 5th grade was the last year my daughter spent in public school, for similar reasons.


  8. Sorry..I was busy this AM but I’m chiming in right behind HomeworkBlues…As the parents of a stressed out child, you are the only people who can defend and support your child. If you don’t, who will?

    If your child was being physically pummeled every day, wouldn’t you have something to say? Your child is being emotionally pummeled by being overburdened with homework and if you say nothing, you are permitting it.

    There is nothing that important in Grade 5 ( I cannot remember that year at all from my childhood, quite frankly) that requires 2 to 5 hours each night of homework. I mean really…..think about it for a moment. What could 10 year olds be studying that would warrant 10 hours more of study a week, let alone 5!!!!?????

    This is why I’m such an advocate of NO HOMEWORK until high school…what they are learning does NOT warrant it. Our 10 year olds are not nuclear physicists who have to decode a ticking bomb to save the whole planet. They are little kids who need to learn how to get along with each other, say please and thank you and make their beds sometimes.

    Maybe we wouldn’t have so many surly, ill mannered kids and adults in this world if we focussed on those tasks in Grade 5…


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