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Should Homework Be Mandatory For Elementary School Kids?

More and more, parents and teachers are clashing over the amount of homework being assigned to elementary school children. Some of them, as young as 7 years old, are experiencing higher levels of anxiety when it comes to academics and their extracurricular activities.

Principal Mark Trifilio, at the Orchard School in Burlington, South Vermont  announced that his school of kindergarten-through-5th graders will not assign homework.

"They're just kids," he tells the Associated Press, "they're pretty young and they just put in a full day's shift at work and so we just don't believe in adding more to their day. "

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The decision isn't unique, in fact, Kelly Elemetary School in Holyoke has also banned homework for the year. After discussions with parents and teachers, Principle Glasheen opted to ban homework and extend the school day. Children now attend classes between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. rather than the previous 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"Face time with a teacher … is going to impact their learning more than doing skill-and-practice work at home," she told abcNEWS.

Decisions like these aren't come to lightly and conflicting research makes it difficult to really tell if completely doing away with homework is the answer to childhood anxiety over schoolwork.

Since publication of Alfie Kohn's book "The Homework Myth," more and more parents are requesting that teachers to stop with the after-school assignments. More and more principles are beginning to agree with their request.

According to Kohn, homework is more of a hassle than help. "The disadvantages of homework are clear to everyone: exhaustion, frustration, loss of time to pursue other interests and often diminution of interest in learning," he said. "Homework may be the greatest extinguisher of curiosity ever invented."


Should teachers really stop assigning homework?

In a Psychology Today article, Donna Matthews Ph.D., acknowledges that over-burdening our kids with too much work can do more harm than good, but rather than cancel it altogether, there should be a healthy balance between after school work and play.

The National Education Association and National Parent-Teacher Association recommend that children get no more than 10 minutes of homework times their grade. First graders get 10 minutes, second graders get 20 minutes, etc.

Marion School in Marion, Montana takes this approach and it seems to be working: "We definitely don't say 'no homework' but we try to keep it reasonable," said Cherie Stobie, principal at the K-8 Marion school in Marion, Montana.

"The main benefit is just having the additional time to practice later in the day because research shows that if students practice, you know they take a break after they've learned something and they practice it again later, it's more likely to be retained," she said.

What do you think? Should they do away with homework in elementary schools? Let us know in the comments below!

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