I just got back from "curriculum night," at my daughters' school, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The girls' main (grade 6) teacher spoke at some length about having decided to adhere as closely as possible to the Toronto District School Board's homework policy, which I reviewed in a guest post on Sara Bennett's now sadly defunct StopHomework site (see here and here). The teacher explained that his goal this year is to attempt to cover the bulk of the curriculum, especially the overstuffed math curriculum, through in-class work. To that end, he has scheduled double math periods a few times a week. He noted that according to the revised 2008 homework policy, work completed at home cannot be assigned a grade, but is reported on only in the (non-graded) learning skills section of the report card.
In the two weeks since school began I had noticed that the girls were not bringing home much homework, just the occasional math problem that they hadn't managed to finish in class. But I was surprised at the teacher's admission that this was a conscious change of practice on his part. Last spring I interviewed the principal of our school for my post about the homework policy, and she told me that she fully supports the revised policy, and that at the beginning of each year she reviews it with the teaching staff. I'm wondering if our "chat" last spring, had anything to do with the changes I'm seeing this year. If so, it gives me hope that as a parent I can effect change, even by doing something as non-confrontational as writing a blog post about a particular policy. Nonetheless, I have to give credit where credit's due. In a handout the teacher distributed to parents, he further explained his position this way: "I have a young family and believe that spending time with your own children is very important. Spending less time on homework should allow children to do more of their preferred educational activities at home." How refreshing!