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New Jersey School District Experiments With Homework-Free Weekends To Reduce Students' Stress

WAYNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- A homework-free weekend is something students dream about. In one school district in New Jersey, educators think more downtime and less stress will equal better academic results for their students.

To achieve that, officials in Wayne Township public schools have eliminated some weekend homework. Students say the new wellness policy is cheer worthy.

The cornerstone of the year-long plan to reduce student stress are three wellness weekends, where none of the students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be assigned any homework.

"I think it's amazing," student Mariah Zuniga said. "I think it's the best thing they could possibly do."

Superintendent Mark Toback says for the first time, district employees made overall wellness a goal. Using findings from several educational research studies, parent feedback, and observations from guidance counselors it was determined that breaks from all schoolwork was key.

"The demand to perform at the highest level is something that's not sustainable without a little break," Toback said. "Everybody needs a little break."

The three no-homework weekends aim to provide a break to students and staff alike. Students who spoke with CBS2 said they often spend three to four hours on homework each day, and look forward to the reprieve.

"I have homework, I have work, it's so hard to juggle," one student said.

"I think it takes a toll on everyone, so I think it'll be good for the whole school system to take off," said another.

The wellness plan also includes wellness fairs for all grade levels to teach students healthy coping strategies. There are also no-technology days for high schoolers to unplug from their smart phones and tablets and avoid social media.

The effort could mean less traditional homework year-round for younger kids

Parents give the school district high marks for making their children's wellness a top priority.

"I think it's nice they're looking out for our kids," one father said.

"It could be a good balance to have some off weekends, I wouldn't say every weekend," Alan Tompesku said. "I think kids benefit from having homework."

The first district-wide wellness weekend with no homework will be in October.

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