Suffolk elementary students will soon have less homework

Brandi Cummings reports on homework policy changes coming to Suffolk.

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – One Hampton Roads school division is making some changes to its homework policy. Starting next year, children in Suffolk elementary schools will spend less time doing homework.

The school board started discussing the changes a few months ago, after parents voiced concerns during a board meeting.

It’s an evening activity for many school-aged children but homework can sometimes take hours to complete.

Parents like Lauren Archer know the routine all too well.

“If it’s a Monday or Wednesday which is a sports day, we’re not getting home until close to 7 already. Then it’s ‘get your backpack, let’s get our homework done’ and then that’s 8, then it’s dinner time and then bed. Then there’s not much time for anything else,” Archer said of her son’s schedule.

Not everyone supports the plan, but some parents 10 On Your Side spoke to think it is a good idea.

“So, I think if you are doing things with your kids on a regular basis, just in everyday life, they’re getting reinforcement on what they’re learning in school,” said mom Danah Artis.

Archer said her family can spend up to an hour a night on homework with her third grader. She too supports the changes.

Cathy Sturgeon is a mom who spoke against excessive homework during a recent Suffolk School Board meeting.

“Homework puts families in a bad situation without good results,” Sturgeon said.

“So just to be clear, no research has ever found a benefit to assigning homework in elementary school,” according to Sturgeon.

During their October meeting, school board members had mixed reactions to changing the policy.

“I think it should be totally abolished,” said Suffolk School Board member Linda Bouchard.

While board member Dr. Judith Brooks-Buck, said, “I have mixed feelings about it.” She continued. “I do believe with children practice is necessary and it cannot all be done all during the school day even though we’d like that.”

According to its research, Suffolk’s old policy had the largest potential amount of homework compared to other local school divisions.

However that’s changing. After the holidays there will be a 10 minute homework rule in Suffolk elementary schools.

That means for instance a second grader can only have up to 20 minutes of nightly homework.

It’s a move parents we spoke to support.

“I think that kids still need time to be kids,” Archer said.

The new policy goes into effect in January.

Statement from Sidney Neighbours, president of the Education Association of Suffolk, in regards to the recent discussions of the division’s homework policy:

“The bottom line with everything the Education Association of Suffolk, and both the Virginia & National Education Associations, believes is to do what is best for children. Research shows that less homework is the better alternative, however, practice in math is always needed, and we would encourage parents & guardians to read with their students nightly as we work to raise a generation of readers.”

Full Suffolk School Board PowerPoint on policy change

App users: Click here to answer the poll question that asks “How much homework is too much?”