Recently, a Texas teacher’s letter to the parents of her second grade class went viral on Facebook. With over 59,000 shares in its short time on social media, many people have praised second grade teacher, Brandy Young on her homework policy. “Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day.” Young stated. “There will be no formally assigned homework this year.” This is a revelation many families have been wishing for. With many children coming home after a long day at school, only to spend countless additional hours working on homework, it has taken time away from things like family time, extra-curricular activities, hobbies, and even a good night’s sleep. In Young’s letter, she states, “I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.” The picture of Young’s new homework policy notice was posted on Facebook by a delighted parent, and has since swept the nation, getting raving reviews from many students and parents alike. Many are hoping that this will spark a change in schools across the country. But, does it live up to its promises? Will students really be happier and more successful without homework?
So, what do we really need to know about homework and how it affects students? Research shows that in the last 20 years, the lower level grades have had an increase in homework. This has not led to many positive results, rather neutral and sometimes negative outcomes for students. It is suggested that teachers assign first grade students 10 – 20 minutes of homework each night. Each grade after that, it is suggested that 10 more minutes of homework be added each night. It is said that sending work home for after school completion works on three categories: preparation, practice, and extension. It is meant to give children the chance to apply the skills and information they have learned during the school day. Children at the secondary level have been shown to be more successful during the school day if they have the chance to practice (even a small amount) after school hours.
However, despite this information, many studies have shown that there is no conclusive evidence that there is a correlation between homework and the success of students. It was proven to be beneficial to some students, under some circumstances, but not enough evidence was found in enough students to prove a link between homework and success. So why do teachers think that homework is a necessity? Why do parents wish for its elimination? Homework is beneficial, to a certain point. There is a very fine line between success and failure when it comes to the effects of homework. Some students benefit more than others, including older students. Some studies have proven that younger students have a harder time focusing after a long day at school, so they benefit less from it, yet they are the group that has seen the biggest increase in homework in the last 20 years. Too much homework takes away from its effectiveness in students. This seems to be the problem that many students and parents complain about today. Therefore, many people are pushing for its elimination.
Today, teachers struggle between the push for less homework, the growing demands of state standards, and the need for more hours in the day for learning. It is up to teachers to find a happy medium for today’s students after school assignments. According to Young, “For any teacher considering anything that might benefit their students I say go for it; if something doesn’t work, change it.” Teachers must try different approaches to learning, to see how it works for their specific class. No two children are the same, therefore, no two students learn the same. We must trust our teachers to make the right decision for our students. What do you think is the best homework policy?