FORT WORTH, Texas – A new homework policy at a Texas school is generating a lot of discussion on Facebook after one student’s mother posted a note from her daughter’s teacher that went viral.
Fort Worth mother Samantha Gallagher posted a copy of a letter from her daughter’s teacher about the new homework policy last Tuesday, and in less than a week it received 51,000 shares.
“Dear parents, 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,” the letter read.
“Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. 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.
“Thanks, Mrs. Brandy Young.”
Gallagher wrote that her daughter “Brooke is loving her new teacher already!”
“Finally more teachers are catching on to this!” Jamie and Jason Coffey responded in the comments. “Our school has been like this for years, it’s sooo much better.”
Gallagher later posted her dismay as her original post went worldwide, with people in Canada, Scotland, Ireland Polynesia and Africa sharing the message.
“Just goes to show you how universal this subject is!” she wrote.
Stanford University research published in the Journal of Experimental Education in 2014 examined student well-being and behavioral engagement of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing California high schools and found homework can have a negative effect, according to Stanford.edu.
“Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good,” senior lecturer Denise Pope wrote in the study. “The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students’ advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being.”
The study found 56 percent of students considered homework their primary source of stress. The students told researchers in open-ended questions that their 3 hour per night homework load lead to sleep deprivation and other health problems.
Researchers also found that homework overload meant students were “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills.”
Students stuck with a lot of homework were also more likely to quit activities, spend less time with family and friends, and drop hobbies they enjoy, according to the Stanford website.
Another study published in The American Journal of Family Therapy in 2015, which surveyed 1,100 parents of school-age children in Rhode Island, came to a similar conclusion.
Researchers from Brown University, Brandeis University, Rhode Island College, Dean College, the Children’s National Medial Center and the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology compared the teachers union’s suggestion of 10-minutes of homework per grade level to the amount of homework students actually bring home, and the effect the homework has on their well-being.
Parents reported that kindergartners were taking home 25 minutes of homework a night, first graders spent about 28 minutes on homework each night, and second graders spent about 29 minutes a night.
“It is absolutely shocking to me to find out that particularly kindergarten students (who) are not supposed to have any homework at all … are getting as much homework as a third-grader is supposed to get,” Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, the contributing editor of the study and clinical director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology, told CNN.
“Anybody who’s tried to keep a 5-year-old at a table doing homework for 25 minutes after school knows what that’s like. I mean children don’t want to be doing, they want to be out playing, they want to be interacting and that’s what they should be doing. That’s what’s really important.”