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A 2015 study, for instance, found that kindergarteners, who researchers tend to agree shouldn’t have any take-home work, were spending about 25 minutes a night on it. As many children, not to mention their parents and teachers, are drained by their daily workload, some schools and districts are rethinking how homework should work—and some teachers are doing away with it entirely.They’re reviewing the research on homework (which, it should be noted, is contested) and concluding that it’s time to revisit the subject.
Hillsborough, California, an affluent suburb of San Francisco, is one district that has changed its ways.
The district, which includes three elementary schools and a middle school, worked with teachers and convened panels of parents in order to come up with a homework policy that would allow students more unscheduled time to spend with their families or to play.
This anti-homework sentiment faded, though, amid mid-century fears that the U. was falling behind the Soviet Union (which led to more homework), only to resurface in the 1960s and ’70s, when a more open culture came to see homework as stifling play and creativity (which led to less).
But this didn’t last either: In the ’80s, government researchers blamed America’s schools for its economic troubles and recommended ramping homework up once more.
They feel entitled enough to voice their opinions.”Schneider is all for revisiting taken-for-granted practices like homework, but thinks districts need to take care to be inclusive in that process.
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“I hear approximately zero middle-class white parents talking about how homework done best in grades K through two actually strengthens the connection between home and school for young people and their families,” he says.Because many of these parents already feel connected to their school community, this benefit of homework can seem redundant.“They don’t need it,” Schneider says, “so they’re not advocating for it.”That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that homework is more vital in low-income districts.In fact, there are different, but just as compelling, reasons it can be burdensome in these communities as well.Allison Wienhold, who teaches high-school Spanish in the small town of Dunkerton, Iowa, has phased out homework assignments over the past three years.He points to a 2014 Brookings Institution report that found “little evidence that the homework load has increased for the average student”; onerous amounts of homework, it determined, are indeed out there, but relatively rare.Moreover, the report noted that most parents think their children get the right amount of homework, and that parents who are worried about under-assigning outnumber those who are worried about over-assigning.This conclusion is generally accepted among educators, in part because it’s compatible with “the 10-minute rule,” a rule of thumb popular among teachers suggesting that the proper amount of homework is approximately 10 minutes per night, per grade level—that is, 10 minutes a night for first graders, 20 minutes a night for second graders, and so on, up to two hours a night for high schoolers.In Cooper’s eyes, homework isn’t overly burdensome for the typical American kid.Earlier this year, the district of Somerville, Massachusetts, also rewrote its homework policy, reducing the amount of homework its elementary and middle schoolers may receive.In grades six through eight, for example, homework is capped at an hour a night and can only be assigned two to three nights a week.