2016-10-26 / Front Page

The stress of homework is gone for some area students

By KATY SAVAGE

CAVENDISH — The Cavendish Town Elementary School (CTES) is no longer assigning homework for grades K-5.

The school stopped assigning it a couple weeks ago because between ballet, soccer practice and other after-school activities, homework "was just creating a lot of stress on family life," said Principal George Thomson.

He said he heard from a number of parents, students and teachers and they concluded that the seven-hour school day was enough for students.

Instead of homework, teachers are providing optional "home learning opportunities,” like spelling games, for example, and suggested reading but traditional homework is a thing of the past unless students are falling behind or absent. 

This is a big change for CTES.

"We've always had traditional homework," Thomson said

In the past, students were assigned 10 minutes of homework per grade. Second graders, for example, were assigned 20 minutes of homework.

Last year students came to school without their homework done. CTES school blocked out mornings for students to finish assignments but that took time away from instruction.

Discussions about stepping away from traditional homework started in the spring.

"We did a lot of research ... to try to figure out OK, why really are we doing this homework stuff?” said Thomson.

Recent studies have highlighted the negatives of homework for elementary school students. A 2015 study said too much homework can cause stress and lack of interest in academics.

Another study in 2014 said homework could harm economically disadvantaged and minority students. 

Schools across the country and locally are making the same changes in their homework policies.

Ludlow Elementary announced last month it's no longer assigning homework for grades K-5 unless a student is absent or behind. The school is encouraging students to read every day, and, to just play. 

"We hope your child will explore new opportunities and go outside to play,” Ludlow Elementary staff said in a letter to parents last month. 

Sixth graders at both schools still have traditional homework assignments to prepare them for middle school.

CTES is also still offering after school Homework Club for students wanting more instruction. 

"So far most of the parents seem pretty excited about it," said Thomson, but there are some parents who still see value in traditional homework. 

Homework has been shown to create more independence and critical thinking skills but homework also takes time away from family life. Both CTES and Ludlow Elementary are encouraging students to read regularly as an alternative to homework.

"Reading every night can only help your child,” Thomson said.

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