Homework-free school wants to take pressure off kids

The principal of Golden Valley said cutting out homework made sense for her community school in Val d’Or.

'If they have activities and dinner, where do they fit homework in?'

Schools still expect parents to promote learning and academics at home, however specific work to be completed at home won't be assigned. (CBC)

Back-to-school doesn't mean back-to-homework for some lucky elementary school students this year. 

Mary Louise Rogers, the principal of Golden Valley School, said that for her community school in Val d'Or, Que. cutting out homework made sense.

"[The children] need to sleep 10 to 11 hours a night. Some don't get home until 4:30 p.m. or later because we are not a neighbourhood school," Rogers said.

"They are bussed in. If they have activities and dinner, where do they fit homework in?"

According to Rogers, the school, located about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal, discussed the move extensively and, "the gurus of homework agree that the achievement of a child in elementary school has nothing to do with the amount of homework done."

Primerose Elementary School in Quebec City phased out homework last year and its principal Michel Pineau said students' grades weren't affected.

The principal of Golden Valley said the fact that kids commute from far away, and need 10 hours or more sleep per night, leaves no time for homework. (CBC)

"The time spent in giving homework, getting it back, doing corrections, is time lost from learning in class," he said.

He said parents were happy with the move. The school even sent out a guide encouraging learning activities at home.

So why do schools give homework at all?

"It's one of those things that's just always been done," Rogers said.

She added that she still expects parents to talk about academics with their children — but she doesn't expect parents to spend a portion of their evening helping them with assignments.

"Some of [the kids] go home to single parents, working parents, and if it doesn't add to the [child's] achievement then it becomes a question of why are we doing it?" she said.

Mixed feelings from students

The principal said one girl at Golden Valley School was upset when she learned they wouldn't have homework anymore and told her teacher, "Oh no, but I love reading!"

She was told she should keep reading, but because she enjoyed it, not because school was making her. 

The English Montreal School Board as well as the Eastern Shores School Board say they are keeping their homework guidelines in place.

with files from CBC's Julia Page