Dear Parents, We Don’t Believe in Homework

So my daughter came home from the first day of 4th Grade with this news, “My new teacher says she doesn’t believe in homework.”

Yeah right, I thought. Last year, her 3rd Grade teacher had warned us that she had taught 4th Grade for many years and that’s when the really heavy work started to kick in.

At Back-to-School night we were presented with this information:

We have done some work this year as a staff regarding the purpose and effectiveness of traditional homework. The research is unable to produce evidence that homework improves student performance. Rather, it is telling us that if we want to improve attitudes, mental and physical health and academic performance, we must promote the following things:

  • Children need to play outside for at least an hour after school each day. They should reach a high level of exertion during their play, enough to produce a sweat. 
  • Children should have dinner with their families at least 4 nights weekly. This is shown to decrease eating disorders in females and decrease smoking and drug abuse rates in males. Recent research suggests it teaches good eating habits with more fruits and vegetables. 
  • Early to bed. Research suggests that children need 10-12 hours of sleep a day to be ready to learn. 
  • Reading time every evening. This is a great time for the whole family to sit and read together. 
With these points in mind, I plan to keep homework minimal and meaningful. I will insist on 20 minutes of reading per evening and math homework will be assigned as warranted, if I feel a child needs additional practice with certain skills. 
There will be occasional larger projects or writing assignments that will need to be attended to at home. 
Honestly, I’m torn between hoping my kid doesn’t fall behind the national average of 4th Graders and wondering if we should transfer her to a more academically rigorous school and thinking this is a very innovative and wise approach.
What do you think?
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23 replies
  1. SJP says:

    I also have a fourth grade daughter and she will have no homework this year either. However, she does have a reading log every night and does get occasional math homework. Sounds like our daughters have teachers with similar approaches.

    I think that what your teacher suggests – exercise, sleep, family meal time – these are all wonderful things. To many parents, this is a no brainer. But I am always shocked when I hear people are letting their 9 year olds stay up until 11PM, or let their kids play wii all afternoon.

    I personally am planning on doing a bit of work at home. I know that makes me a big mean old mom, but 20 minutes a day of mom-assigned math or writing isn’t going to kill her. I believe you’re in CO? We are too (Western Slope). Another reason we want to do extra work after school is that with all the budget cuts in CO, we are seeing larger class sizes, and cuts to programs, all things that we are very unhappy about. So we feel like no matter what, we will have to supplement our kids’ public education.

    Good luck with your decision. The no homework thing makes me feel panicky, but I absolutely love her teacher and have heard so many wonderful things about her that I trust her. But I will still be assigning homework. 🙂

  2. Margaret says:

    I have to say, I like the approach…assuming that the school day offers ample opportunity to reinforce skills that the homework would otherwise address. I’m interested in how you think it is working out over the course of the year.

  3. Now Begin says:

    i think this is brilliant and perfect. i think homework, particularly for elementary kids, is often busy work. a little math homework, consistent reading… perfect. why do they spend 6 hours at school and then have to come home and work more. kids need PLAY. unfortunately, most of the kids will likely just get more TV time.

  4. Amy S says:

    Found your blog through the time magazine article, and now I am sifting through it and loving it! I live in FoCo as well! As a teacher turned stay at home mom of two girls, I LOVE the letter the teacher gave you. I had the same philosophy as a teacher, and promised the parents that I would be working them hard enough during the day, and they shouldn’t need to do much at home other than BE A KID (and read)! Play outside, get dirty, use their imagination, etc. Now, in the real world, at least half of the class probably goes home and sits on the computer or plays video games. Our nation needs some major changes, and those changes have to start at HOME!

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