Yep, you read that correctly! Homework teaches very little, creating far more problems than it solves. Arguments, late nights, stress, and time away from essential childhood activities are all consequences of homework, and research continues to show they are not worth it. When our students leave school in the afternoon, we have created conditions so that they can go home and relax, spend time with family, and participate in a variety of after school activities. We want our students to have time to be kids! The only responsibility students have beyond the school day is 15 to 30 minutes of reading, the activity that’s after school merit has been proven truly beneficial.
Why no homework?
Many studies have shown there is no benefit to doing homework, and certainly not hours of it each night! The very best resource for understanding this is Alfie Kohn’s book The Homework Myth*. In it, he gathers and decodes numerous studies, opinions, and theories on homework’s lack of benefits. Numerous studies have also been done on the effects of homework. The following are just a few of the findings:
In a 2015 study developed by researchers Pope, Brown, and Miles entitled “Overloaded and underprepared: Strategies for stronger schools and healthy, successful kids,” (Pope, D., Brown, M., & Miles, S. (2015). Overloaded and underprepared: Strategies for stronger schools and healthy, successful kids. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.)
A 2015 article published in the American Journal of Family Therapy researchers also found that “... as homework load increased, so did family stress.” (American Journal of Family Therapy, Robert M. Pressman, David B. Sugarman, Melissa L. Nemon, Jennifer Desjarlais, Judith A. Owens & Allison Schettini-Evans, Published online: 15 Jul 2015)
A 2013 study by Pope and Galloway following a group of homework-overloaded high school students reported “greater academic stress and less time to balance family, friends, and extracurricular activities.” They “experienced more health problems as well, such as headaches, stomach troubles, and sleep deprivation.” (American Psychological Association, By Kirsten Weir, March 2016, Vol 47, No. 3)
“Children of all ages need down time in order to thrive,” says Denise Pope, PhD, a professor of education at Stanford University. “Little kids and big kids need unstructured time for play each day.” (American Psychological Association, By Kirsten Weir, March 2016, Vol 47, No. 3)
In a longitudinal research study from 1987-2003 by Harris Cooper, Jorgianne Civey Robinson, and Erika A Patall found no strong evidence for an association between the homework–achievement link and the outcome measure (grades as opposed to standardized tests) or the subject matter (reading as opposed to math). (Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Research 1987-2003, Review of Educational Research, vol. 76, 1: pp. 1-62. First Published Mar 1, 2006
Does it really work?
At Vine, we believe that the skills needed to complete homework can be taught, and we actively instruct our students to develop them. A sustained focus on independent work, breaking down large tasks into manageable pieces, and developing study techniques are some of the essential skills we prioritize as we ready our students for their next level of education. Prior to graduation, we spend a few weeks making sure the skills each student has developed and honed at school translate to their ability to work at home. We take this responsibility very seriously, knowing we’re preparing our students for future learning in a wide variety of educational structures and environments.
*To read more from Kohn’s book, The Homework Myth, the chapter “Does Homework Improve Learning?” is available online here.