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Instead of hours of at-home math and grammar worksheets, the students of one New York City elementary school will now have more after school free time thanks to their school’s decision to completely eliminate homework—a move many parents aren’t so happy about.
In a letter sent to parents last month, Principal Jane Hsu announced that teachers of P.S. 116, which teaches pre-k through fifth grade, will no longer be assigning homework in an effort to give students more free time to read and spend time with their families.
“The topic of homework has received a lot of attention lately, and the negative effects of homework have been well established,” Hsu wrote in the letter. “They include: children’s frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and family time and, sadly for many, loss of interest in learning.”
Hsu pointed out that the school spent over a year looking into various studies, where they found no direct correlation between traditional homework practices and academic success, especially for elementary school-aged children. Instead of homework, Hsu said it would be more beneficial for students to do activities that have a positive impact on their “academic performance and social/emotional development,” activities that include spending time with their family and reading at their own pace.
The letter also made recommendations to limit screen time for kids but whether those limits will actually be implemented is an even bigger question. In fact, many parents of P.S 116 aren’t very supportive of the new policy change, some even threatening to pull their children from the school altogether.
Many parents worry that by taking away traditional homework, they’ll also be eliminating an opportunity for their children to learn skills like discipline and responsibility. Some have already gone out of their way to assign their own children homework.
“They’ve decided that giving homework to younger ages [elementary school students] isn’t viable. I don’t necessarily agree,” said Daniel Tasman, a father of a second grade student at P.S. 116. “I think they should have homework — some of it is about discipline. I want [my daughter] to have fun, but I also want her to be working towards a goal.”
According to Hsu, the decision to eliminate homework came after the concern that too many kids were being forced to sit out recess because they failed to complete assignments. After multiple group meetings, made up of parents and teachers, Hsu says they found that the best solution was to stop assigning at-home work.
“We are excited that we are redefining the landscape of homework — but we are certainly not eliminating homework,” Hsu said, who firmly stands by the school’s decision. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact our newly-designed homework options will have on our students and their families.”
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with this school’s decision to stop assigning homework?