Essex Elementary teachers in Massachusetts can put down the red pens and their students can jump for joy. Why? No more homework, for now.
Essex administrators made the bold move to eliminate homework because many were concerned that assignments were cutting into time that could be spent playing, relaxing, or bonding with family.
Charlie Virden, a fifth grader at Essex, already feels like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders, literally and figuratively. “I can’t believe how light my backpack is!” he told his parents.
“In the preceding grades, they would be loaded with these binders for homework,” Charlie’s father, David Virden, tells the Boston Globe. He too agrees that homework can cut into valuable family time.
Essex Elementary isn’t the first to do away with take-home assignments. A growing number of schools are giving the no-homework policy a try, including the Kelly Full Service Community School in Hol-yoke, Massachusetts.
Hol-yoke Principal, Jacqueline Glasheen, implemented the policy after parents, teachers, and students expressed their support in the idea. “We think more face time with a teacher who is providing high-quality instruction will get students further than homework,” says Glasheen.
When it comes to deciding how much homework to assign, many schools including Essex prior to the ban, follow the “10-minute rule.” This rule allows 10- 20 minutes of homework a night for first-graders, then an additional 10 minutes of nightly homework for each year on.
Robert Pressman, the director of research at the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology in Rhode Island, tells the Boston Globe that “the side effects of homework are very destructive” and can lead to anxiety and depression for both students and parents.
After considering the negative effects surrounding the homework policy, Manchester Essex Regional School District created a committee to examine the issue in depth. The committee decided that implementing a trial no-homework program at Essex Elementary School was a good starting point.
Emily Dwyer, an Essex teacher that served on the homework committee, is hopeful that this decision will be beneficial for the students and their families. “Our hope is that students feel less pressure and have more time to engage in other pursuits and passions outside of school,” Dwyer tells the Boston Globe.
When it comes to implementing the no-homework policy at other schools in the district, Superintendent Pam Beaudoin is still undecided. “It’s a deep dive for us. I don’t know if a blanket approach is one that will fit all. We are going to start a conversation in each school.” A decision is expected by the end of the school year.