Parents Applaud Texas Teacher’s Homework Policy

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A teacher's subversive homework policy has gone viral recently with many commending the teacher's response to the heavy workloads for young students – an increasing problem that is affecting parents and students alike.

The teacher, Mrs. Brandy Young, Popsugar reports, was met with smiling faces when she set the homework policy for this academic year.

Mrs. Young is one of many educators reacting to increasing worries about workloads for young children, including increased homework, despite the lack of research findings that suggest there is a real benefit to assigning homework in elementary school.

In a note to parents, the progressive second grade teacher at Godley Elementary School in Godley, Texas, began:

"After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year."

Mrs. Young continues by saying "research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance."

According to a recent Washington Post piece, no research has ever found a benefit to assigning homework in elementary school. Moreover, even at high school level, the research supporting homework isn't wholly persuasive.

This is why Mrs. Young has asked the parents of her students to encourage them to spend the time they otherwise would be using on homework assignments to do things that align with research on student success.

She finished the note with these words:

"Rather, 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."

Mrs. Young has offered a fresh approach to the mounting problem – one that is receiving more attention year on year – caused by the huge amounts of homework assigned to students.

According to the Miami Herald, experts say that a large part of the stress that is caused by homework is as a result of the friction between parents and kids. As such, the experts' advice is for parents to step back and not pressure their kids so much.

Dr. Jeffrey Brosco, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, elaborated on the thinking behind this advice:

"I say to parents over and over again: It's not your homework.

"If the true value of homework is that the child is able to learn independence, then the parents undermine it by making sure it gets done. If the child does it, that's fine, but if they don't, that's the teacher's responsibility."

According to Brosco, the most important thing a parent can do is simply to provide a suitable place to work, as well as helping with time management when it comes to deadlines.

Another side to the problem, NWA reports, is the increasing difficulty in homework assignments for young kids. A new survey has shown that a majority of parents have to look up the answers to their children's homework questions when asked for help.

According to the Sylvan Learning survey conducted by Wakefield Research, 55 percent of parents frequently look up answers to math or science homework questions without telling their children.

Meanwhile, in the same spirit as Mrs. Brandy Young's note, Conneaut Area faculty members in Linesville recently received an email from Superintendent Jarrin Sperry outlining a striking change to how the district will treat student homework. "Quite simply, the new policy will dictate that: Homework will be risk free. Homework will not be used in determining interim/report card grades," Sperry wrote.

As reported by the Sharon Herald, the district's policy is still evolving and homework will currently still play a part, albeit a reduced one, in students' final grades.

Students and parents will be pleased to hear that schools are looking at new ways to approach the assigning of homework, as research further substantiates the belief that increasing a student's stress levels with overly heavy workloads is counterintuitive to their educational development.

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