To help students and families establish balance between school work, health, and home life, the School’s administration has designated one homework holiday weekend in each of the four marking periods. These are in addition to Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks, which are already designated homework-free.
The initiative is one of several recommendations from a faculty committee formed to examine emerging research about the effects of homework on students. They concluded two fundamental ideas: that homework is only useful when it is meaningful; and that the increasing demands on high performing students are extraordinary. Teachers reviewed numerous studies on the usefulness of homework, as well as the work of education expert Rick Wormeli
. They concluded that in order for education to be most effective and to encourage good personal habits, students need more frequent breaks.
“The committee explored ideas about how to make homework more meaningful and give kids a chance to catch their breath,” said Upper School Head Ryan Hews.
Mr. Hews said faculty worked with the Student Government to come up with four weekends where “nothing could be due on Monday, and students would have time to spend with family and friends without thinking about homework.” The holidays require planning on the part of teachers, who work to schedule assignments away from the breaks.
“It definitely is helpful to have a homework holiday when it is at the right time,” Hun Student Government Vice President Gib Versfeld ’17 noted, adding that assignments can pile up the week before or after, so the dates must be carefully chosen. “We’ll continue to collect student feedback, to establish the best dates and set a strong precedent going forward.”
Homework will continue to be an ongoing area of study for faculty, as they ensure that assignments are meaningful and contribute to the overall learning experience. With the skills-based learning movement, the School began leaning away from homework as busy-work in favor of creative exercises and projects. In addition, faculty members are encouraged to limit assignments to 30 minutes per night, per class, excluding Advanced Placement classes.
“The Hun School believes fundamentally in the use of homework as a tool for students to develop and practice skills, as well as a time to explore areas of new thinking,” said Mr. Hews.
The next two homework holidays are scheduled for Feb. 18–21 and April 28–30.