When the school year begins Thursday at Marion County Public Schools in central Florida, the district’s 20,263 elementary school students will come to class sure of one thing: No matter what the school day brings, most nights they won’t have homework.
Instead, Superintendent Heidi Maier is urging families to read with their kids every night for at least 20 minutes — any book, newspaper or magazine of their choice. The Bible works, as does Popular Mechanics, Harry Potter or Walter the Farting Dog.
The move comes as schools nationwide revisit longstanding policies on homework, especially for young children. What was once a bedrock principle of the school year is now under the microscope as research shows few benefits, and as families complain about evenings spent stressing over problem sets.
Maier said her teachers can make exceptions for special projects such as book reports or science fairs, but that otherwise she’s discouraging the practice of sending home worksheets and other materials intended to give kids more practice.