New homework guidelines for Vancouver Public Schools will allow time for younger students to enjoy family learning activities after the school day is over.
The guidelines align with the learning needs of students. Said Layne Manning, director of curriculum, “We are supportive of assignments that directly connect to classroom learning so students are set up for success. We are asking teachers to consider the needs of each student.”
The guidelines modify homework assignments for children in kindergarten through third grade. Teachers can still provide practice sheets and recommend after-school activities to reinforce lessons, and 20 minutes of daily reading is encouraged. Students at these grade levels will not be penalized for unfinished homework assignments, however.
Guidelines for older students are focused on the amount of time students should be expected to spend on homework.
“We encourage families to spend their time together in creative, fun and interactive activities,” said Manning. “Reading, cooking or taking a walk together are activities that lead to conversation and learning. We also encourage teachers to recommend activities that will help parents help their children in reinforcing specific skills that relate directly to what they’re learning in the classroom.”
The changes reflect current research, which shows that homework assignments given to children in primary grades offer few, if any, educational benefits. For some students, homework can create stress and anxiety if the assignments are time-consuming; difficult; and take them away from opportunities for physical and creative activities such as sports, the arts and reading.
“VPS teachers are committed to educating the whole child and creating a healthy balance for children and their families,” said Debra Hale, executive director of teaching and learning.
Specific revisions to Policy 2420 concerning homework aim to improve instruction and enhance achievement. Homework assignments should be a constructive tool for teaching and learning and be geared to the needs and abilities of students. The guidelines will be rolled out in the fall.