Raise your hand if you’ve ever used the “my dog ate my homework” excuse. You’re probably not alone! But that sentence will never leave the lips of the students who attend this Florida school district. For them, homework is banned.
The Marion County public school district of Florida just announced that, as of the 2017-2018 school year, it will no longer require traditional homework to its elementary school students. The new program is all thanks to Heidi Maier, the new district’s new superintendent.
According to Maier, research shows that assigning homework to young students has no effect on their academic performance. However, reading, and reading aloud, does boost their grades and test scores in school. (And if you teach your child these three languages, you’ll basically be raising a future CEO.)
A 2006 meta-analysis found that homework in elementary school does not contribute to students’ academic success; plus, it only slightly improves performance for older students. But there are huge benefits to reading every day, especially when students pick their own books, read aloud, and listen to a fluent adult read to them.
“The quality of homework assigned is so poor that simply getting kids to read, replacing homework with self-selected reading, was a more powerful alternative,” Richard Allington, an expert on reading acquisition, told the Chicago Tribune in an email. “Maybe some kinds of homework might raise achievement, but if so, that type of homework is uncommon in U.S. schools.”
Maier told the Tribune that while the district will encourage the children to select their own reading material, students can also receive help from teachers and school libraries. Plus, volunteers, audiobooks, and other resources will be available to students who do not have an adult at home to help them read. (Warning: This is why starting school young can negatively impact your child.)
While most parents and teachers praise the new curriculum, some remain unconvinced, Maier said. “We need to make our message clear and explain why this is beneficial,” she told the Tribune. The district plans to host town halls where parents and others can voice their feedback.
If all goes well, getting the young students to fall in love with reading will be a piece of cake. For your own child, try these early reading habits to make kids fall in love with books (but avoid these books at all costs).