No homework!? It's more than an idea at one Palm Harbor School. It's one of the defining philosophies.
Students at Suncoast Waldorf School keep the work in the classroom and spend their evenings reconnecting with family, or just being kids. Sound too good to be true?
"To me, it's the same as if a parent worked eight hours a day and their boss said, ‘oh by the way, I've got one to two hours of work for you to take home every night," said Eileen Colts-Tegg.
"My daughter is in first grade, and I think in first grade she should be a child," said Melylah Smith.
Homework is never popular with students. Still, leaving the books at school is a tough assignment to some.
"I have some parents who are happy with the little homework that we have, and some parents who request more homework," said teacher Jules Fox.
They are used to having more, especially in public schools, but at the Suncoast Waldorf School?
"It signifies that the children are really learning what they are offered up in school in a way that there is no need when they are at home," Smith said.
The philosophy doesn't ban homework. Teachers still have the discretion to assign when needed. They simply avoid assigning it for homework's sake.
"They're here for eight hours every day, five days a week, like a full-time job. They're getting a lot of education," Fox said.
Research seems to confirm it. Prestigious studies discovered the majority of kids spend less than an hour a day on homework, no matter what grade they're in. That hasn't changed in 50 years.
"For the younger children, things are taken very slowly and deeply, and certainly by the time they get into the upper grades, they have rigorous work to do and homework into the night," said administrator Barbara Bedingfield.
Specifically, there's about two hours a night for the average high school senior, which is pretty standard. But for the kids at Suncoast Waldorf, their work at home is a kinder, gentler kind of assignment. Homework is an opportunity for a child that may need a little more practice or time to finish what they didn't complete in class.
It's more fun for kids, but could it hold them back academically?
After eighth grade, students move onto other schools.
"The proof is in the tests that they take at the end of that block," Fox said.
These are success stories that the Waldorf School credits in part to no homework and leaving a little more time for being a kid.
Suncoast Waldorf School is small. It educates students in pre-school through eighth grade.Their mantra is to encourage children to develop a love of learning, rather than focus on learning for the sake of passing a test.
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