If kids don't have homework, they will have more time to be active and engage with their families. That's the philosophy being used with one Winnipeg school's Grade 4 students.
Nine-year-old Tessa Iver-Wright really likes being in Jeremy Ritchot's class at École Henri-Bergeron. Besides being really nice and creating fun games for learning, her teacher also has one important rule. It's her favourite.
Iver-Wright says in previous years, her busy schedule would have her rushing to get her homework done.
"I have so many other things on the go. Like I do dance. I do guitar. I do choir. I'm involved with a lot of stuff so we can never find the time to do it," Iver-Wright said.
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Tom Chapman, also nine years old, said when it came to homework, he "had to cram it in there" between soccer, hockey and playing with his brother.
Busy schedules outside of school are part of the reason Ritchot and another colleague decided on the 'no-to-little homework' rule for the Grade 4 classes.
Homework caused stress and anxiety
"Last year and even years prior to that, I've had kids that were panicking and stressed out and anxious because their homework wasn't done," Ritchot said.
It's been a challenge to phase it out. Ritchot has increased the amount of work being done in the classroom so students don't have to take it home. But he's kept it fun and already, he's noticed improvements.
"Now I find they're much more energetic. The participation level has increased tenfold, I would say. They're less stressed. They're more rested. And they're better able to learn when they're not bringing that baggage in with them," Ritchot said.
Chelsea Gordon likes it because it gives her more play time with her baby sister. It's also taken away the stress of not having someone who can help her at home.
"Because sometimes it's in French and my dad works on the train. So it's kind of hard because no one else speaks French in my family," Gordon said.
That's also why Ritchot wants the work done in class — so he's there to answer all the questions.
But what about next year or the year after? Will these students know how to manage their time when new teachers give them homework? Ritchot isn't concerned.
"Homework doesn't necessarily teach responsibility. If you're teaching responsibility, the homework piece will follow suit. Then they'll internalize all of that and it will be much more easy for them to go home and say 'You know what? I have things that I have to do and I have to get it done on time because that's the responsible thing to do.'" he said.
Besides, Ritchot said when it comes to homework, it's something they've already learned in class.
"They're not really learning anything new. They're just repeating what they already know. So I would much rather them socialize, play, be physically fit and active and go outside and eat dinner with their parents."