Evergreen School Dist. shifting focus away from homework for ele - KPTV - FOX 12

Evergreen School Dist. shifting focus away from homework for elementary students

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The Evergreen Public School District in Vancouver is shifting its priorities for elementary school students, away from excessive homework, and back toward school-sponsored activities.

At Orchards Elementary, students can participate in basketball, soccer, and will soon be offered a robotics club. Before school, close to 60 students are signed up for the cheer team.

"We're focused on educating the whole child, and making sure we have a balance of academics as well as other activities," said Elizabeth Brawley, who is Principal at Orchards.

To offset the time students spend participating in activities, Brawley urges teachers to assign less homework.

"When they get home, we really want families, if they can, to get together and have fun together," said Brawley.

Although extracurricular activities are certainly not a new concept, access to them have been restricted over the years, either because schools stopped offering them, or because they were cost prohibitive.

At Orchards, the activities are funded in part by the school district, but also by a variety of community organizations.

Basketball and soccer, for instance, are sponsored by the Southwest Washington Police Activities League.

"So many of these kids don't have access to the extracurricular sporting activities because of the money piece," said Jenny Thompson, a representative with SWPAL. "It's the least that we can do to make sure the kids can be active and engaged."

The payoff, according to Brawley, is an noticeable uptick in attendance, and a decline in students' behavioral issues.

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