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Show me the research that says summer homework advances student achievement. Anything that intrudes on family time, and a much needed respite for many students, must be designed based on research and best practices. At the least, if students are assigned homework over the summer, then teachers need to be available to answer questions and otherwise support the students in their work. Packets of busy work waste resources and time when students can be engaged in informal learning experiences. Review work might make sense, but only if help is available to those who need it. But again, show me the research that says this helps before you impose this on our family time.
Our school system has a program to provide high interest books to below-grade-level readers to keep them reading over the summer. The catch is that teachers call students to talk about their reading. We are currently gathering data to see if it makes a difference and helps address the summer slide. Reading over the summer is the most important "homework" but schools need to find creative ways to encourage it so students buy in. When it's imposed on students, those who enjoy reading are often turned off.
I am a rising senior in high school. This summer, I must complete well over four hundred pages of textbook reading and corresponding notes and homework problems. This is in addition to two assigned novels, four essays, and over a hundred math problems.
My teachers are justified in giving me this homework and I do not resent them for it.
Don't get me wrong, I hate having to do it. I have been trying to complete a novel which I have been working on for years, as well as work, volunteering, internships, college search, and SAT and ACT prep. I am also trying to lose weight and make more friends. Since the summer homework accounts for much of my first marking period senior year grades--which are extremely important for college admissions--I must push aside other obligations and desires to make time for them.
But my teachers do not assign summer homework to keep me from "being lazy" or to review material (in my classes any review must be done on one's own time). They do not do it because they don't want to teach the material themselves. Far from it.
If they did not make their students teach themselves the first several chapters of the textbook, they would be unable to cover all the material necessary for us to do well on the AP test. They would be demoted to teach the regular courses, where students are nearly impossible to teach due to apathy, discipline problems, and giving up entirely. AP students may come to their rooms to cry over a B+, but at least we don't throw things at them.
Regular courses and most honors courses are assigned little to no summer homework. It isn't fair that we who do so much in and out of school should have this much summer work. But AP forces teachers to teach to the test, and requires so much course material to be covered that teachers don't have time to even cover everything during the school year, let alone teach anything creative or extra. Some of my work is due via email during the summer, as is the case on weekends and any holiday break. There is not enough time.
But it would be dangerous to create a longer school year, as some here have called for. Many of my friends have been hospitalized after nervous breakdowns, panic attacks, and depression. Just as one cannot expect a runner to run consecutive marathons, one cannot expect a marathon AP student to keep up the work all year.
Please remember that when you argue that summer homework is good because kids are lazy, that many of us are splintering from stress and activity overload. When you call teachers lazy, remenmber that some have no other choice than to assign students to teach themselves. I urge you to stop assuming that these issues apply to the lowest common denominator; you forget the high-achievers, who are far from insignificant even if they are a minority in public education. The "race to nowhere" culture and its progeny of dubiously useful standardized testing and cutthroat, "do it all" extracurriculars are yet again the culprit behind dysfunction in education. The debate over summer assignments is simply another facet of this enduring parasite.
I could go on, but I have too much homework.
I do feel that kids should be reading and not neglecting their skills, but often kids have family vacations, trips with groups they are part of (Scouts, church, etc.) or with high school, they are to attend clinics for their sports or other activities. Also, not all students have the support at home to allow them the time to do homework. It's easy to say kids must do homework, but not all parents will support this and thus the student will be unfairly punished. The only way I'd say yes to homework over the summer is if the student is in summer school. For the most part, I think Summer Reading should be sufficient.
Yes, they should. I have to read 5 books, and it is very useful and interesting.
It can't possibly be that hard for a teacher to take five minutes at the beginning of a chapter to review stuff from before, and since summer work is just a review, it could be done in class or even as a homework assignment once school's started. Kids have all sorts of hobbies and interests that they enjoy working on (heck, many of these hobbies use skills learned in class) but when their time is choked by work that could be done when class resumes, they have less time to work on the things they enjoy. For me it was writing, drawing, swimming, and even seeing a friend I see once a year when he's in town. Frankly, I don't see the benefit of shoving math packets and reading assignments down the throats of students who just need time to enjoy their lives outside of the glaring lights of the classrooms they spend roughly 96,000 hours in from kindergarten to high school graduation. (I did the math for my state:8 hours a day, 5 days a week for 185 days (my state's requirement, so give or take from that) times 13 years.)
Our school has stated that it is mandatory for students 7-12th grade to do a book report and log on to a math website for an hour a week. They say this is due the first day of school for a grade. I can tell you my boys are not doing this. They work through the summer at a family buisness. They do hay on our vacation farm on the weekends, and conditioning for football. The summer is time off from school. The schools assign enough homework while they are in school. I have 2 boys with a 4.0 gpa, the other two are honor roll. I feel we are teaching them life lessons during the summer and a work ethic that will be a valuable tool later in life.
The issue of summer homework is really no different from the issue of school year homework. Teachers should use their best judgment, so if assigning summer homework makes sense to the individual teacher, go ahead and do it. The question has nothing to do with assigning. It has everything to do with requiring, and that goes for the school year as well as the summer. Teachers make a huge mistake when they make decisions for the home that override the judgment of the parents. Most parents will lend support for homework getting done, and will be supportive whether it is the summer or the school year, as long as it is not interfering with family life. When it does, teachers need to always be ready to defer to the judgment of the parent in the individual child's home. www.thehomeworktrap.com.
As a math publisher we hear how much traction students loose over the summer if they do not continue with some light work. We developed a summer school review designed to retain their accomplishments from the previous year, while keeping it simple in a time designed for vacation.
Studies support the idea of continued review and learning as the best method to keep students progressing for the long term. Keep it light and make it fun with rewards.
Here's a link to a BLOG on the subject from ASCD Smartbrief - today:
Want to take the fun out of learning? Put a grade on it. Require it to be done. Compare results between students. Make them do an assignment that means NOTHING to them and does not apply in their life at that time. They get that most of the year. Let them learn something they enjoy over vacation. Sure, give them a list of suggested reading, websites or, for pity's sake, give them directions on how to build a box, paper or otherwise, showing them how Geometry is useful.
But PLEASE do not make what one or more teachers think(s) is important the center of a students summer. How will a student find the thing they do best if they are always doing what everyone else thinks is best?
I think Summer is a great time for students to engage in other formative activities, such as athletics, travelling or visiting with friends and family. Each summer break is a unique, limited time of the year when students do not have to worry about studying. Perhaps a very light assignment in the form of a challenge is okay. For example, offer a special prize upon returning to class for the student who read a classic or who wants to report on a book they read during the summer. Equally simple: when classes reconvene after the break, a first task can be "What did you read", or "How you spent your summer".
Any formal assignment over the summer may detract from the many other enriching opportunities our students face.