Elementary school teacher implements 'no-homework policy': Students 'need more family time'

Texas teacher Richelle Terry says she will not be assigning students math homework this year so they have more time to spend with their families. (Credit: Richelle Terry)

With parents and kids juggling more sports, tutoring and extracurricular activities than ever, a Texas teacher believes there’s little time left for quality family time. So, she decided to take one thing off her students’ plates: homework.

“People are so torn and thrown in 90 directions and they need time to kick back and be together,” Evadale Elementary School teacher Richelle Terry tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “So I want to give them time to be a kid. Kids need to be kids. Family time is what they need.”

According to local news 12News — where Terry was profiled — a policy at the Evadale Independent School District allows teachers to create their own lesson plans so long as students meet the necessary learning requirements for that grade.

In addition to being a second and third-grade math teacher, Terry, 27, is also the mother of three “active” boys, so she says she knows first-hand how stressful homework can be for all parties involved.

“They just want to be home and be boys and be outside. We've had homework over the past few years and its done nothing but drain us,” says Terry. “We're mad when we go to bed, we're upset and defeated.”

So when Terry made the switch to second and third-grade math from Pre-K, she decided to carry over her no-homework policy to the 2019-2020 school year to give her students more time to play and relax with their families.

“I just feel like if we can let school be school and home be home and separate the two, they're recharged by the end of the day and ready for the next day,” Terry says. She also adds that there is little research to prove that homework is beneficial, pointing to higher test scores and high school graduation rates in Finland, a country that has little to no homework.

Terry says she believes she will be able to teach students the material they need to know by planning ahead and giving students time to work on worksheets in class. In addition, she says the school’s new tutorial period will give students enough time to complete unfinished in-class assignments. Although Terry has not assigned any homework for the school year, she says she will be closely monitoring the students’ progress throughout the semester.

While Terry’s students were excited about the prospect of no homework, she says many other educators have been supportive of her non-traditional way of teaching. The Evadale ISD Board of Trustees President Jim Love expressed his support of her policy, saying that “homework has outlived its usefulness.”

“He agrees with the whole thing and thinks that it's going to be a great way to get kids excited to reach out about learning,” Terry tells Yahoo Lifestyle. Yahoo Lifestyle’s attempts to reach the Evadale ISD Superintendent and Board of Trustees President were not immediately responded to.

However, parents online are torn about Terry’s “no homework” policy. Some users online believed that not assigning work at home could hurt her students in the long run. “Most kids don't have discipline and direction at home or at school now,” a user on Facebook commented. “Quit making excuses for them and be a real teacher. You can never climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pocket.”

“This is a great idea until they get top college and they haven't learned to manage homework time into their lives, they'll have no study skills. College is all ‘homework’ and lecture in class with the exception of science labs,” another Facebook user added.

Meanwhile, others pointed out that not giving her students homework doesn’t necessarily translate into more family time.

“Kids are so overbooked with sports, dance classes and gymnastics, and spend every spare minute with video games and electronics,” wrote one Facebook user. “Families are too busy and going in different directions. No homework will just meantime for another dance class or a video game.”

Despite others skepticism of her “no homework” policy, other users online praised Terry for recognizing the value of family time and trying a bold alternative approach to educating her students. “I think they have plenty of time in school. When they're home that should be family time,” one Facebook user commented.

Another user added that it will easier on parents who may not have the knowledge to help their kids with their work: “I like this concept because it takes the stress away, and they have an expert to ask questions of instead of having to rely on their parents who may or may not know the answers.”

Beyond giving her students more time quality time with their loved ones, Terry says that not assigning her students homework will give them more opportunities to learn things at home that can’t be taught in the classroom.

“Class goes so much further than school. We have to learn to be good humans and learn to take on responsibilities and take care of our homes and love and treat others with kindness,” Terry explains.

“If they go to school for school and go home for school, they don't have time to learn to be anything else.”

Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

• Parents say teachers destroy shoes of children who school break dress code: ‘The definition of vandalism’

• Seminar for teachers sparks backlash for including slides on 'white privilege' and 'racism'

• Bride and groom ask for school supply donations instead of wedding gifts: 'Being a teacher, I put my heart and soul into the kids'

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.