A letter from an elementary school went viral recently when it was shared on social media, all because of a Texas teacher's no-homework policy. While incomplete schoolwork will be sent home, second grade teacher Brandy Young won't be assigning any formal homework, according to her letter, obtained by Dallas/Fort Worth's local NBC affiliate. Young stated that she'd looked into the research over the summer, and found no proof that it improved student performance. Instead, she asked that parents focus on family dinners, reading, playing, and sleep each evening, "things that are proven to correlate with student success."
Young's not the first elementary school teacher to ditch homework, and the research is clear that they're in the right; not only have studies not found any academic benefit to assigning homework in elementary school, they've actually found adverse effects, according to Salon. Homework can foster a negative attitude about school and learning in general, and that attitude can follow kids for their entire school career. Homework can also lead to stress and fighting at home, since parents are forced into the role of enforcers for kids who are simply too young to be responsible for their own time management. Research shows only minimal benefits for middle school students, and high school students shouldn't be doing more than two hours a night.
The National Education Association recommends 10 minutes of homework per night per grade level, meaning 10 minutes for a first grader, 20 minutes for a second grader, and so on. They actually concede that there's no academic benefit to homework in elementary school, but claim that it "can help students develop study skills and habits and can keep families informed about their child's learning." Others argue that homework habits can just as easily be established in middle school, and parents can stay informed about their kids' education any number of ways.
Whether elementary school students should be doing a little homework or none at all, it's important for parents and teachers to be on the same page about it. A student should be able to complete their homework without much help, and parents should feel comfortable contacting their children's teachers if they feel the homework is unduly hard, or taking too long to complete. According to CNN, a 2015 study found that parents without a college education tend to feel less confident in challenging the school about homework assignments, assuming that the teacher knows best. But if the teacher doesn't have the whole story, they may not. Teachers may not completely get rid of homework just because a parent requests it, but it can't hurt to ask. The worst they could do is say no.