07/27/2017 16:00 EDT | Updated 07/27/2017 16:00 EDT

Florida Schools Do Away With Homework For Elementary School Students

They're replacing it with something that might help even more.

If you've ever looked at the pile of homework your elementary school student has brought home and wondered, 'Why is this even happening?,' you might want to think about moving to Marion County, Florida.

The students at the 31 elementary schools covered by that region will no longer have homework assigned to them, according to superintendent Heidi Maier. As reported by the Ocala Star Banner earlier this month, Maier sent an audio message to educators, telling them there would be no homework in elementary grades, and instead, students would be "assigned" 20 minutes of reading every evening.

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"The research showed that students who are given a preponderance of homework do not perform better, or get better grades, than those who do not," Maier said in her announcement.

A similar audio message was released to parents on the school district's site, which said, in part:

"Traditional homework as we know it will disappear, at least for elementary students. Instead of working on classroom assignments at home, we want students reading at home for 20 minutes every evening, and we want you to read with them. We'd like you to assist your child in self-selecting their own texts that inspire them and encourage them to read. This is so important for so many reasons, including building relationships and increasing parent involvement."

Maier, who left her job as lead professor of teacher education at the College of Central Florida to become superintendent, has plenty of backers for the decision.

As CNN reported last year in a story about a Houston-area second-grade teacher who did away with homework, plenty of academic studies show that homework — specifically in the elementary grades — does not improve academic performance.

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Canadian and American students do about six hours of homework per week, according to a 2014 study, but countries like South Korea and Finland, where the average number is more like three hours a week, are the ones at the top of the education rankings.

Many families across the continent have been complaining about the amount of work given to their kids each night and its impact on the time they're able to spend together, as well as the stress it adds to their children's lives.


And it's not just mentally that homework can have detrimental effects. As the Indian Express reports, the government in the Telangana region recently decreed that students' backpacks be no heavier than 1.5 kg for the equivalent of kindergarten and grade one, and three kg from grades two to four.

Heavy bags filled with books can potentially damage kids' vertebrae and knees, as well as inducing anxiety.

This was established because of the potential damage heavy bags can have on vertebrae and knees, as well as inducing anxiety in kids. To that end, homework was also eliminated for primary school children (up to grade four).

Last year, teachers in Alberta made the news for their decisions to cease homework for young kids, and it seems possible the trend is spreading.

Every time a parent's note to a teacher regarding excessive homework goes viral, more and more people jump on the bandwagon. Perhaps it won't be long until "homework" just means "chores" — and we can't see many parents arguing with kids doing those.