Are no homework weekends effective?


Thea Dai

Three no-homework weekends are currently scheduled for the 2021-22 school year.

No-homework weekends are moving to become a more permanent part of the Castilleja schedule.

In March of 2021, as Castilleja returned to majority in-person learning, the school announced that in order to “prioritize student well-being,” it was going to create several no-homework weekends for the rest of spring semester. Recently, Castilleja has announced that for the 2021-2022 academic year, there will be three no homework weekends, designed to “hopefully provide some relief.”

Kimberly Bagnola, the Upper School Dean of Students, remarks that due to student support for no-homework weekends, they will most likely become a more permanent fixture in the Castilleja schedule.

Years ago, when Castilleja’s schedule did not have time for study labs for freshmen and sophomores, no-homework weekends were actually a built-in part of the schedule intended to provide “breathing room” for students, as they are today.

Some students, such as Olivia Stinson ‘24, have found no-homework weekends to fulfill their intended purpose. “Personally,” she said, “I think no-homework weekends provide a much needed break from the constant pressure of school. Having no homework weekends allows students, many of [whom] have a bunch of extracurricular activities, to focus on their personal life and other interests [and] hobbies.”

Others note that while they recognize the intention of no-homework weekends, they could be better implemented. One junior writes that “no-homework weekends are a good concept that got implemented in a way that made them detrimental—to students, the homework, projects, and tests get piled up beforehand and after, meaning [that] no homework weekends [turn] into [an] only somewhat decompressing time after [students get] little sleep and [have] immense stress.”

Additionally, both a junior and a freshman say that they find three-day weekends to be much more beneficial than no-homework ones.

Even though students have mixed feelings about no-homework weekends, most concur that if they are to be continued, they should be more organized. Last semester, students and teachers got the heads-up for the first no-homework weekend only five days in advance. This year, teachers found out about the no-homework weekends around the same time as students.

Laura Hansen, an Upper School English teacher, believes that it’s important for students to have institution-sanctioned down-time but also notes issues with the current no-homework weekend schedule. Because of increasingly limited class time, Hansen has observed that having no-homework weekends, especially without advanced notice, can further limit how much material a class is able to cover.

There is a generally positive reaction to school-instated systems that provide breaks and “breathing room” to students, but there is also a consensus that if no homework weekends are to be effective, there must be more advanced planning and more advanced notice to teachers.