First of all, by definition, vacation means that you aren't supposed to have any kind of work to do! I even looked it up:
Now, if your children are in high school and studying for MAJOR exams, then fine, they might have to do some vacation studying/homework. It would be better to have the exams before break so that could enjoy their vacations, but that's another article for another day.
Elementary and middle school students are not learning anything so important that it can't wait a few weeks.
So, why are students expected to do vacation homework in the first place?
I believe that it's all about test scores and, ultimately, money. Politicians and business people believe that the only way to succeed in the global marketplace is do more and do it faster. This misguided and dangerous thinking has trickled all the way down to our classrooms.
I call it The More Disease. Educators are convinced that cramming more information into our kids's heads, assigning them more books to read and respond to, introducing them to more and more advanced concepts, requiring them build more projects, etc. will somehow result in better test scores now and more productive workers later.
More Disease has become an educational epidemic, but it's students and their parents that are suffering. We've reached the point where not only do kindergarteners have homework, but now all students are expected to homework over vacation!
Why I Hate Vacation Homework
First of all, I hate having to work on vacation- mine or anybody else's. And, as million of parents so well know, our kids' homework is family homework, and after months of it, we all need a break. Students need a break from worrying about, avoiding and completing homework, not to mention that they need a break from their parents' nagging. Parents need a break from worrying, reminding and nagging their kids about homework.
I hate packets. Don't even get me started about vacation homework packets. The entire concept is insane. Try to imagine what you would do if, as you were heading out the door to go on vacation, your boss handed you a packet and said, "Oh, here's some extra work for you to do while you're off!" You would start looking for another job, that's what you'd do.
My son's first grade teacher sent home a packet over winter break and told the students that if they completed it, they'd be invited to eat cupcakes with her when they returned to school. Thanks a lot. I thought that I'd have two weeks of letting the family sleep late, relaxation, holiday shopping, NO HOMEWORK! Instead, my son drove me crazy about that packet. You see, he wanted the cupcakes, but that didn't mean he was happy about doing 30 pages of silly worksheets, which brings me to...
I hate busy work. It's degrading. If an assignment isn't meaningful, don't send it home. And, teachers, please, give parents some credit. If we want our kids to stay busy during a break, we'll find something to do (read, cook, ride bikes) or we'll buy them a workbook. Please don't send home a zillion worksheets as a "favor."
I hate projects. Must I spend my life buying supplies? Must I drive to Michael's and Home Depot every week of my life? Can't I put something other than display boards in my trunk? Give us all a break! What makes educators think that parents want to fight about/ work on their kids' projects over vacation? We do not. Let us relax, have fun, eat dinner with our kids! If you must assign a big project, let it be due before the vacation begins.
What To Do About Vacation Homework
Okay, enough ranting. Let's turn this discussion positive and pro-active, shall we? Parents do not have to allow homework to ruin their vacations. Here are some things to do:
Decide if you are going to make your kids do all, some or none of the vacation homework. Does your family really need some time off? Are your kids about to lose it? Is the homework beneficial or just busywork? You must do what is best for you and your family. Once you have made a decision, stick to it. Nothing is worse than saying that there will be no homework and then changing your mind!
If you have decided that your kids will be doing the homework, choose a day or two to complete it, set aside time, and see that it gets done during those times and only those times. Ordinarily, I am against reading a book quickly, but when it comes to vacation homework, it is better to get the reading out of the way in three or four days than letting it mess with your child's mind for weeks or months. Let those other No Homework days be really, truly, homework free: no talking about, thinking about, or reminding about homework.
Take the Homework Personality Quiz to figure out whether or not your child is better suited to doing vacation homework at the beginning or end of the vacation.
Don't allow your child to bring books and homework with them to friends and relative's houses. How else can they learn how to argue with extended family and overeat? They can't learn this holed up in a room reading!