Should children do school work over the summer break?
Should we be closing school bags completely?
I always remember the year that my son was just getting to grips with reading. He had struggled for most of that school year, and I could tell that he was close to being put off reading altogether. So for that summer I decided not to push it -- no invitations to story time, no waving books under his nose in the library. If he wanted to look at a book he could, but I wasn't going to force the matter any more. And as it turned out he didn't ask and I'm not aware of him reading any books all that summer.
But the strange thing was - when he went back to school in September his reading came on leaps and bounds. It was as if the break was exactly what he needed. So ever since then I've thought that giving your brain a break from school work in the summer is a good thing. When you've been concentrating hard all year, sometimes your mind needs a pause to process everything it's accumulated.
Jen at Mum in the Mad House agrees, with a resounding "No!" when asked if homework is on the agenda for her boys, while Cathy at NurtureStore says she's planning some projects of her own rather than anything set by school.
I must admit that I'm wavering - the most recent school report carried warnings that writing skills need to be developed, so I'm wondering if that should be a focus in the holidays.
It's about life as well as school
But then the skills our children learn in school sneak into our lives in all sorts of ways as well as via formal homework:
- Your child can write a letter or an email to Granny or your friends
- Children can make shopping lists, work out a budget and plan a family meal
- You can ask your child to read out the ingredients when you're cooking or baking together
You can take part in a library challenge - these take place all around the UK and are completely free. Children get rewards according to how many books they read - it's amazing what an enticement a few stickers can be. The theme of this year's national summer reading challenge is Circus Stars, and you can find out all the details of the summer reading challenge here.
You could even plan your holidays with the curriculum in mind - this might be a bit OTT for some, but part of the reason we went on holiday to Guernsey last year was that we knew World War II was coming up as a school topic and we figured it wouldn't hurt to visit a few historical sites. However, next year's topics include Guatemala and the Rainforest, so it's not really practical to continue with this. But if you are broadly aware of what your child's likely to encounter next year in school, I don't think there's any harm in keeping your eyes open for ways to ignite that interest, even in the holidays.
What do you think? Will homework be in the agenda in your house this summer, or will your children be having a complete break?
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