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    September 19th 2022 Leave a Comment

    The WHY behind no homework...

    September 19th 2022 Leave a Comment


    By: Ms. Tiffany Baron, Special Education Coordinator, Branch Line School

    Homework. Homework is a big part of the cultural image of school in the United States. We all sat at the table with our parents arguing about homework and many of us were expecting to sit at the table with our own kids some day to argue about homework. But did you ever stop to think about WHY schools have been assigning homework for all these years? What research has been done to show if assigning homework is effective at all in increasing student achievement?

    At Branch Line School we have done our homework and studied that research. Based on that research, from the very beginning, it was decided that Branch Line School students will not be assigned homework beyond classwork that was not completed during the school day. Why did we make that decision?

    • There is mixed evidence about the effect of homework on the academic performance of students. Most research shows little to no benefit for homework assigned to younger, elementary-age students. As children get older, homework can be more beneficial, but there does not seem to be a very strong correlation between homework and student achievement until the high school years.
    • Homework can be great to help students learn executive functioning skills like responsibility, follow through, and organization. These are all skills that we already emphasize strongly and practice daily during the school day. The structure of our classrooms allows us to teach and model these skills for students without the need for assigning homework.
    • Our school mission statement says that we want to help our students become critical thinkers. Most of the homework that has been traditionally assigned by schools focuses on memorization or repeated practice of simple skills. There is a place in schools for rote knowledge, but, at Branch Line, we want our students to think critically and engage with the material they are learning. Worksheets are not going to do that.
    • We understand that children participate in after school activities that take time. We believe that those experiences are important to the growth and development of children, too. Not everything necessary for living a full life can be taught in a classroom.
    • Homework time can often cut into time for families to eat together and/or delay bedtime. Sleep is so important in these K-8 years and time spent bonding as a family is invaluable for a child’s mental health. Anything we can do to help kids develop healthy habits will benefit everyone.
    • We believe that the best way to create lifelong learners is to model lifelong learning for your children. Read with them. Teach them to learn to love reading by exploring different styles, topics, and themes with them. Have unique experiences with them. Teach them daily living skills like cooking, doing laundry, and being responsible for other household chores. All of these are still learning experiences for your child and all of them double as great opportunities for you to increase the loving attachment that you have with your children. When homework is done just to check a box that it’s done, it is rarely enjoyable for anyone and it certainly doesn’t lead to kids who love learning and exploring their world.

    If you feel strongly that your child would benefit from doing homework, ask your child’s teacher for recommendations for workbooks that you can purchase and use at home. Just remember, if you decide on your own to have your kids do homework, they should stick to a rule of working for no more than 10 minutes per grade level!  e.g. a first grader should do no more than 10 minutes of homework a night.

    Families are busier now than ever before and many kids and parents are happy to not have the added responsibility of homework every night. Instead of sitting around the table arguing about homework, we challenge you to take time to enjoy your children while they’re still young. Talk with them about the world. Challenge their thinking. Engage with them at a deeper (developmentally appropriate) level. Explore your community. Help them become the kind of people who learn because it is satisfying, not because it is required.


    Branch Line School (BLS) is small by design. Classes are capped at 20 students. As we have grown over the last 10 years, we have had to add new classrooms in order to accommodate the number of students moving up. Students and families who are frustrated or overwhelmed by the size and impersonal nature of the traditional classroom will find welcome respite in the safe, nurturing and intimate learning community of BLS.

    Our school model is one of multi-age classrooms. Kindergarten (Junior Explorers) is our only stand-alone class. Explorers consist of first and second grade, Investigators are our third and fourth grades, Navigators are the fifth and sixth grades, and the Innovators are the seventh and eighth grades. We’d rather not have students identifying themselves with a grade, but as a community as a whole.

    The idea behind multi-age classes is a philosophy-based approach on teaching and learning. The main reason is that we have realized and fully believe that relationships/connections between students (peer to peer) and teachers is one of the most influential practices in student success.

    Our multi-age classrooms are purposefully designed to include students of all abilities. Coupled with project-based/interest-based learning, students are able to learn from each other – and show what they know. Our teachers teach in cohorts, or teams. Students stay with the same cohort teachers for two years, which allows the development of a stronger connection between peers, students and teachers, and also with families and the community.

    Because multi-age classrooms are a school-wide structure, there is more than one class of each level, so teachers have the opportunity to plan and teach together. Because team-teaching has been successfully implemented, this allows our teachers to have more small group/individual time with students.

    Our students learn based on their individual needs and growth, not based on a graded average. Topics covered are based on Michigan Department of Education (MDE) standards, but projects/centers are designed so that students at any level can be successful and learn at their own pace. Our teachers have the autonomy to decide what they teach based on the needs of their students. They design the curriculum by identifying common outcomes/MDE standards from both grade levels and blend them together.

    Learn more about Branch Line School on our website at We have limited availability in all classrooms – CLICK HERE to submit an enrollment request and schedule a tour today.


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