Elementary School Dumps Homework and Tells Kids to Play Instead
A public elementary school is abolishing traditional homework assignments and telling kids to play instead — outraging parents who say they may pull their kids out of the school.
Teachers at P.S. 116 on East 33rd Street have stopped assigning take-home math worksheets and essays, and are instead encouraging students to read books and spend time with their family, according to a letter the school’s principal, Jane Hsu, sent to parents last month.
“The topic of homework has received a lot of attention lately, and the negative effects of homework have been well established,” Hsu wrote in her letter, which was sent home with students.
“They include: children’s frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and family time and, sadly for many, loss of interest in learning.”
Hsu explained that the school spent more than a year "analyzing studies focused on the effects of traditional homework" and decided that it was more important for the Pre-K through fifth grade students to do activities that “have been proven to have a positive impact on student academic performance and social/emotional development” such as reading at their own pace and playing.
"In fact, you may be surprised to learn that there have been a variety of studies conducted on the effects of homework in the elementary grades and not one of them could provide any evidence that directly links traditional homework practices with current, or even future, academic success."
The letter recommends limiting the time kids spend on TV, computers and video games, and told parents with concerns to speak to their children's teachers.
A Department of Education spokesman said the city does not have an overarching homework policy, so principals and teachers can use their discretion in assigning homework.
The change in homework policy is not going over well with parents, who have threatened to yank their kids from the school for fear they won't learn enough.
“They didn’t have much to begin with, but now homework is obsolete,” said Daniel Tasman, father of a second-grader at P.S. 116.