The kids are choosing to read daily at home instead.
When Mark Trifilio, Principal of the public pre-K-5th grade Orchard School in Vermont, took a good look at his students and the way they were learning, he realized that the inconsistencies with assigning homework might be hindering students rather than helping them. Since different teachers in the same grade often have separate lesson plans and homework goals, the children were being unfairly subjected to varying homework loads that weighed them down.
After considering the issue for quite some time, and taking a look at some studies that suggested that homework might not be necessary, he decided to take it up with the school’s 40 educators at a meeting prior to the beginning of the school year. He put the decision up for a vote and was astonished at the response: all 40 unanimously voted in favor of doing away with homework.
They decided to trial the idea by banning homework for all grades but encouraging students to read at home and play outside. Studies showed that the only beneficial after-school work was reading at home, so each grade has a list of suggested books but no mandatory reading log. The rules on the school’s website are as follows:
No Homework Policy
Orchard School Homework Information
Student’s Daily Home Assignment
1. Read just-right books every night —
(and have your parents read to you, too).
2. Get outside and play —
that does not mean more screen time.
3. Eat dinner with your family —
and help out with setting and cleaning up.
4. Get a good night’s sleep.
It’s been six months since the inception of the program and the results have been better than expected. The students have reportedly not suffered at all academically and, based on a survey that Trifilio sent home, most parents have appreciated the lack of workload and the focus on reading and playing. Some parents have even reported that their children have improved their reading skills and now no longer need help with at-home reading, going so far as to enjoy that time that they used to dread.
One parent told the Associated Press, “I think it gives kids a lot time for mental and physical rest which I think is super important. I think it’s really good for parent-teacher-student relations in all directions and I think it just gives kids a chance to use their time for what their passionate and excited about.”
The biggest worry amongst parents and educators is that this approach wouldn’t prepare the children for long-term projects and the daily workload that comes with attending junior high and beyond. Trifilio is working on a plan to address this issue by assigning bigger projects so that the students understand the essence of planning and working towards an educational goal.
This idea is certainly still being run as a trial, but Orchard School isn’t the only one trying the new method. Numerous schools across the country have taken note of the success amongst other schools and have implemented similar plans in order to ensure the success of their students.
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