Any schools that hand out little to no homework?

Hi Parents!

I realize that this goes against most teaching philosophies, but does anyone know of any schools in Berkeley, Oakland or SF that give their students little to no homework in the evenings? Some of these schools that I’ve been touring just seem like overkill on what kids need to do at night.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

Parent Replies

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You don't mention what grade level you're looking at, and it does vary by elementary/middle/high school. At my child's public high school, there is a policy about no more than 20 min/night/class, except for AP or Honors classes. We've been happy with that, although most teachers are very inflexible about late assignments (they don't accept them). At our other child's private middle school, there is no stated policy and it varies by teacher and subject quite a bit, although they all say there's lots of flexibility for turning it in late.

If you're looking at K-3rd grade, I agree with your drift that there should be zero homework, with exceptions for bigger projects and/or nightly reading (as long as they make it not a chore). And I'm sure you can find schools that will explictly say that's their policy, just as I'm sure you will run across individual teachers who don't follow it.

My children are both at Rosa Parks Elementary in Berkeley and have, essentially, no homework. We/they are asked to read regularly, and occasionally have a project to work on for holidays or special occasions, but they don't have anything regularly. It's wonderful!

For elementary, Walden Center & School gives out very little homework, which is line with their teaching philosophy, as well as the most current research on homework's benefits & costs (i.e. all the other things children could be spending the time with, including play!). In 2nd grade, we get a small packet of worksheets to be done over the course of the week - but it's not a big deal if it doesn't get done. Occasionally there's a bit more - e.g. in preparation for science week (which includes a science fair) the kids get small assignments each week, but it's meant to provide scaffolding to allow them to think through the steps of their planned science experiment and complete the work & poster by the time science week rolls around. 

Overall, we've been very happy with the project-based academics at Walden, and especially the way they're structured to connect with socioemotional learning & social justice. As an example, my 2nd grader's class as been doing a project on people with disabilities, and how our society succeds and fails in various ways to support people with disabilities. In social studies/english they've been learning about athletes with disabilities and reading/writing about different individuals. In science & math they're working on engineering spaces that are accessible to "clients" with varying disabilities & preferences - how would a house need to be designed to accomodate an electric wheelchair user who also has a dog? What sort of square footage is needed in the garage? How would charging facilities for the wheelchair need to be designed?, etc.). It's pretty fantastic how the teachers weave this type of learning into everything they're doing!

You didn't say how old your kid is, but if you're looking for a more balanced elementary school school experience I would thoroughly recommend the Waldorf model. Our kid is in first grade at Wildcat Canyon Community School in El Sobrante (near Richmond) and has absolutely 0 out of school responsibilities. I believe that in third grade kids start being expected to do instrument practice outside of school but nothing else. Having unstructured time to play, do chores, etc. is really important to the Waldorf model. Happy to talk more about the school if you're interested--feel free to PM me!

Berkeley Arts Magnet gives very little homework. I have a third grader and sixth grader who graduated last year. In K through 3rd, the homework is mainly just reading on your own or with a parent. There also is some math homework in 4th and 5th grades, but not a lot.

My sixth grader attends Black Pine Circle. There is homework most nights, but not more than an hour or so of work. They say the number of minutes of homework matches the grade times ten (60 minutes for sixth grade, 30 minutes for third grade, etc). My daughter is very happy there.

Berkwood Hedge has very little, at least in our child's experience. Most days he has none. 


I'll be interested to read the responses. I have heard of charter middle and high schools that do not have evening homework, rather the school runs an extra 1-2 hours in the afternoon for supervised independent study, but I don't which schools specifically.

In my experience as a student in the Berkeley Public Schools of the 1970s, I had pretty much no homework K-3, and then 4-6 were weekly writing journals and project-based homework. This seemed great at the time, but turned out to be a huge disservice when I got to 8th grade and school got really hard really fast (algebra and Shakespeare!) and I had no good study skills or homework habits. Most of the students who did well had older siblings so their parents knew from experience what to expect.

Homework, although it is a huge time-suck for many years, does teach more than the material itself. The components of learning time-management, organization, how to work independently as well as part of team projects, are critical life skills.

My child attends Urban Montessori, a charter school in Oakland (she's in second grade and started in TK during Covid). They don't have homework, even in the older grades (the oldest child there I know is in 5th grade and they have no homework, but they are allowed to take home work if they need to catch up -- but not many do). This does not go against most teaching philosophies as homework has not been found to be effective in the lower grades at least. We are very happy with her school and the Montessori system and I don't feel that her learning has been hindered because of no homework. In fact, the opposite. She's also able to participate in several extracurricular activities and play outdoors every day. 

My kids go to Crestmont School in Richmond/El Cerrito Hills. They don't have any homework until 4th grade when then have one weekly reading response page (very reasonable).


Mentoring Academy High School in Berkeley has a "no homework" policy. They also have a 9am starting time. The only drawback is the school day ends at 5pm (3pm on Fri). 
Our son goes there and is very happy with it.  The "homework" assignments are handled in the afternoon (after tea time) with the staff present to assist.

Yes the day is long but once he is home the time is entirely his to game etc.

-- A.S.