Sunday, May 27, 2012

About Summer homework

Are you ready for the summer holiday?
Or, still thinking what assignments do you will "suggest" to your students?
Are you on your way to select a summer holiday activity book?
Publishers fill your post box with new books and they claim to be the panacea?

Here you are a short article that can open your eyes or it will make you rethink about summer homework.

This is one of the articles published in The New York Times under the title The Crush of Summer Homework


What Homework Can’t Do

Nancy Kalish
Nancy Kalish is the co-author of “The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It.”

Summer homework sounds like a good idea…until you see how miserable a child looks as he slogs through that pile of book reports, math packets, journal entries, and other typical assignments. The summer load has grown significantly since we were kids. But a little hard work never hurt anyone, right?

Well in this case, it might. Schools should rethink summer homework, and not just because it stresses out kids (and parents). The truth is, homework doesn’t accomplish what we assume it does. According to a Duke University review of more than 175 studies, there is little or no correlation between homework and standardized test scores or long-term achievement in elementary school, and only a moderate correlation in middle school.

Some studies claim that students lose skills they don’t practice over the summer. However, if a child can’t regain his grasp of fractions with a brief review, maybe those skills weren’t taught well enough in the first place. Doing a mountain of math sheets without a teacher’s help — and perhaps incorrectly — is not the answer.

But there are a few things summer homework does accomplish effectively: It steals time away from other important aspects of learning such as play, which helps kids master social skills and teamwork. In addition, writing book reports means kids spend fewer hours being physically active, which is essential for good health and weight control, not to mention proper brain development.

Perhaps worst of all, summer homework affects how kids feel about learning and school. Do we want our children to start the year refreshed and ready to learn? Or burned out and resentful? It’s something every teacher should carefully consider.

Do we want our children to start the year refreshed and ready to learn? Or burned out and resentful?

Do not miss my next post about some new ideas on ESL summer homework.


  1. This is a tough issue, and I am not going to be politically correct. In Spain we have almost three months of summer holidays for our children and the truth is that most of them are spent at summer camps (at the same school they normally attend during school year)and in front of TV or wii/playstation. What is so bad about reviewing what they really have done for 30 to 60 minutes a day? I think that one of the most important problems is that they do not get help at home and parents become stressed, not the children. I like your blog, Enric

  2. Thank you Ana for your comment. You are completely true when you say that most of the children are wasting their summer time in front of computers, tv or other technical gadgets. Probably we must strongly thing on the idea to change the traditional summer homework by using new technologies. I think we can engage and motivate children if we use the same tools they use in their daily lifes. Let's think about it! At this moment only technology (or travelling to an English speaking country) can provide an extra exposure to English! Parents (in general people above thirties) have a very poor average of English language... so, we can not count on them to help children at home!