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  • No-Homework Policy: Why Some Educators Say It Benefits Kids

    Homework itself isn’t bad; it depends on the quality and quantity of tasks assigned to kids.
    by Rachel Perez .
No-Homework Policy: Why Some Educators Say It Benefits Kids
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Two bills that propose a no-homework policy for students in kindergarten to senior high school have been submitted in the House of Representatives (HOR). House Bill No. 3883 seeks to prohibit teachers in elementary and high schools to give assignments on weekends, while House Bill No. 3611 proposes a total ban on homework for all students in kindergarten up to senior high school.

    The Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones agreed that kids should be able to spend time with their parents and rest. She also acknowledged that often, it’s the parents, tutor, or yaya who does the child’s homework. The agency has since released new guidelines on giving homework to students.

    Both parents and teachers had mixed reactions about the proposal to ban all assignments to be done at home or in their own time. Too much homework is a real concern, and yet there are also essential life skills kids can learn by doing homework. Homework itself is not harmful; it depends on the quality and quantity of tasks assigned to children.

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    If the “No Homework Policy” is passed into law, the Philippines wouldn’t be the first country to do so. Students in Finland, Denmark, and Sweden already spend zero to just a few hours every week on homework, along with other education policies. Many teachers had also sent their students “unconventional homework” (e.g., spend time with parents or try a new activity).

    Most parents and kids from these schools and classes loved it — and for valid reasons: The more holistic approach to learning has been proven to produce academic achievers, as well as healthier students who are more confident and more secure. These schools and teachers show that kids can benefit from having little to no homework. Some of the advantages include:

    Young kids have more time to play and read.

    Preschoolers and early elementary students have yet to develop study skills, so giving homework in the form of exercises might not be a good use of their time. It’s been proven time and time again that young kids learn better through play. They understand and remember better when they’re playing and having fun. If young learners should be given assignments, a 2013 study suggests it should be reading with their parents.

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    Children have more room to create and explore on their own.

    A teacher discovered that when she didn’t give her second-grade students mandatory homework, they started doing more independent learning at home. “This inspiring group of 8-year-olds used their newfound free time to explore subjects and topics of interest to them,” Jaqueline Fiorentino writes in Edutopia. She also encouraged reading and “optional” work to help children review lessons. Giving kids more room to explore and be creative help develop a lifelong learning attitude.

    Kids learn about responsibility, plus other social and practical life skills.

    In a U.K. school, elementary kids choose between two optional homework schemes, depending on their interests and targets. Both programs aim to help kids take greater responsibility for what and how they learn. An analysis of the school’s homework schemes showed that it helps develop independence, ensure that skills taught in school are followed-up at home, and promote kindness since some tasks involve family, the community, and charity.

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    Time with family and friends is the foundation for developing a child’s social skills. Spending time and having fun with the people you love makes for good memories which can serve as kids’ happiness anchors and contribute to good mental health. It can also give children opportunities to learn practical skills such as cooking and washing dishes, among others.

    Children have more time for rest and sleep.

    If parents get exhausted when they’re overworked, kids can also experience burnout. Studies have shown than when kids are tired, they can’t focus and perform tasks. “Your brain has to relax every now and then. If you just constantly work, then you stop learning. And there’s no use in doing that for a longer period of time,” says Finnish school principal Leena Liusvaara.

    All the above things considered, homework also has its benefits — and by homework, we don't mean only pen-and-paper tasks. When students are given a reasonable number of appropriate tasks, provided that they actually work on them themselves, they develop good study habits such as organizational skills and time management. The key is always balance.

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