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This School Got Rid of Homework—In Favor of Play!

The Short of It

Teachers at P.S. 116 elementary school in New York have stopped giving out homework assignments and instead are encouraging students to read and engage in family time—and some parents are furious!

The Lowdown

In a letter sent home to parents last month by the Kips Bay elementary school's principal, Jane Hsu, parents were informed that teachers would no longer send home "traditional" assignments like worksheets and instead encourage students to read books, play outside and spend time enjoying their family. (Screen time is not encouraged as one of those activities, by the way.) Parents were also encouraged to bring any concerns about the new policy to their child's teacher.

Of course, the down sides to homework—including, as Hsu detailed in her letter, "children's frustration and exhaustion, lack of time for other activities and family time and, sadly for many, loss of interest in learning" have all been well documented, and Hsu wrote that the school made its decision after spending more than a year researching the effects of homework on children.

P.S. 116 isn't the first school to cut out homework, either: Last fall, a Canadian elementary school made headlines when it decided (in a trial run) to ban worksheets and homework packets for the year.

The Upshot

We're sure kids are overjoyed about the news—but their parents? Not so much. As it turns out, many are less than thrilled with the new no-homework policy, and some have even threatened to change schools lest their kids fall behind their homework-doing peers.

Still, Principal Hsu defends the new direction, and said in a statement: "We are creating opportunities for students and their families to engage in activities that research has proven to benefit academic and social-emotional success in the elementary grades. We look forward to seeing the positive impact our newly-designed homework options will have on our students and their families."

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