“No homework tonight!” From time to time, some teachers surprise their students with that announcement at the closing bell of class. In some schools, though, that’s becoming the norm rather than the exception—at least on specially designated weekends.

A Seasonal Gift for Some

Fall is the season to give thanks and be merry. It’s also the countdown to college admissions due dates. And it’s a great time to land a seasonal job and make some extra money at the end of the year. In states such as Maryland, several schools have designated homework-free weekend periods this fall. It allows over-stressed kids to catch up with other responsibilities—or simply take a breather. The main reason for the break, though, is that college priority and early admissions deadlines for many top colleges in the region occur in the fall.

Schools in Princeton, New Jersey, began implementing one homework-free weekend each semester in 2015, in part to give students more time to pursue interests and passions outside of school. Other New Jersey schools limit the number of minutes students should spend on homework each night. In Hinsdale, Illinois, one high school began offering seniors one homework-free weekend in October “to give harried seniors a little break to prepare for their futures . . . and make sure they have enough time to work on their college applications.” Similarly, schools across the country offer a no-homework weekend at year’s end.

Not Without Downsides

Unfortunately, homework-free weekends sometimes create an unwelcome side effect: extra-homework weekdays. Teachers are still tasked with finishing their lesson plans, and homework is often an important part of that. For students who are working on projects with pending due dates, not working on those projects for an entire weekend may not be feasible. And there’s always the risk that students who are afforded extra time to catch up on college admissions and pursue positive endeavors may simply waste the free time bestowed upon them.

Is Homework Helpful or Harmful?

Some teachers and school districts have taken a blanket approach and banned homework entirely. The value of homework as a whole has been a topic of much debate. In one study, researchers at University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education concluded that math and science homework didn’t lead students to achieve better grades, but it did lead to better standardized test results.

A Stanford researcher concluded that excess homework increases kids’ stress and sleep deprivation. She emphasized that homework shouldn’t be assigned simply as a routine practice; it should have a concrete purpose and benefit. Homework, especially thoughtful homework, is valuable, and eliminating it entirely may be counterproductive to the goal of attending school in the first place: mastering the subject matter.

What Do You Think?

It’s a safe assumption that most students would strongly favor a homework-free-weekends policy. We’re curious how parents feel about the idea. How would you feel if your child’s school implemented a “no homework on the weekends” policy? Would you worry that your children might fall behind peers in other schools without a similar policy? Or do you think it would encourage your children to engage in more valuable extracurricular activities, get jobs, spend more time completing their college admissions packets, or simply catch up on much-needed sleep? We’d love to know what you think.

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