Summers are here. It is time to bid goodbye to the chill of the winter months, to savor the warmth of the summer, relax and socialize with friends. Summers are doubly enjoyable for children as school is almost out of question; children are freed from the restrictions of the four walls of a classroom and school bells ringing all day long, to venture out with family and friends, and play with their gadgets. And summer homework would be the last thing on children’s minds. Unfortunately, summer assignments have become a part of school life.
Teachers believe that summer homework is helpful in the long run, especially when students get back to school in the fall semester. Research studies have demonstrated that children who do not practice reading skills during the summer break obtain lower scores when they return after the 2-month summer break. Jimmy Kim, a Harvard education professor who has done extensive research on summer learning losses, says that maintaining literacy skills is especially critical for low-income children as these kids generally fall behind in the summer, find it difficult to catch up and such educational losses tend to accumulate over a period of time. According to Harris Cooper, chairman of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, kids forget things over the summer break, with standardized tests showing lower scores in the fall than in the spring.
Advantages of Summer Assignments
Develop Study Skills
Homework helps children to learn time management skills, which would be crucial during advanced studies and later in the workplace. It also ensures that homework becomes a matter of habit. And given that help with homework is now available at the tip of the keyboard, homework need not be a chore any longer.
Cultivate Interest in Studies
The academic year may not be enough for the schools to engage students sufficiently, even with the entire day spent at school. Summer assignments provide an opportunity for students to revise the curricular content with a clear head and fresh set of eyes and allow parents to get involved in their child’s school work.
Summer assignments facilitate continuous assessment of the students by allowing the teachers to track students’ progress and spot when a child is struggling in studies. Submission of timely assignments is also a lesson in personal responsibility and diligence.
Disadvantages of Summer Assignments
No Time for Relaxation
Summer vacations are known as summer breaks, which literally translates as ‘give us a break.’ Summers should ideally be a stress-free time, giving children some fresh air and giving their brains some rest. The vacations are meant to be a time for relaxation, to wake up at noon, watch TV all day, visit family members and hang out with friends, and participate in extra-curricular activities. Piles of homework during summer vacations leave no time for fun and relaxation, leaving a student mentally fatigued at the onset of new academic year.
After the busy academic year, sitting down to complete summer assignments can be a monumental task and lead children to burn out well before reaching the final years of school. A mix of academic rigor during the year and free time in the vacations can provide a healthy balance, thereby avoiding stressful situations.
Complete Summer Work Painlessly
After the rigors of an entire year spent at school, students deserve a break before delving into their summer assignments. They have earned a break and should take one. However, it is important that students first earmark a date to start their assignments so that they do not lose focus. The start date for summer assignments will depend on the quantum of homework to be completed, the number of summer holidays and the school commencement day. The nature of the assignment should also be taken into consideration. When it comes to reading assignments, it is best to avoid procrastinating until the last week of the summer vacations. On the other hand, a book should not be studied too soon lest one forgets the content by the commencement of the new academic year.
Prioritization is the key to getting things done. It is advisable to complete more difficult subjects such as history, math, and science at the beginning of the vacations so as to avoid procrastination and allow the possibility that these may require a greater investment of time. An assigned biography or a novel could be done in the end as it may not be as mentally strenuous as a math problem.
Maintain a Time-Table
The amount of time spent on summer assignments/projects will depend on the workload. A rule of thumb is to commit at least five hours each week or one hour on every weekday, to summer assignments. To put things into perspective, when compared to the school year, this single hour each day will seem like a breeze. It is best to prepare a workable schedule, rather than falling back on the ‘When I have time’ mindset, as in the latter case, there is a high likelihood of finding reasons to avoid summer work.
Positive thinking is perhaps the most important aspect of summer assignments. While the physical act of doing the homework may seem cumbersome, a positive bent of mind will make it all worth the effort. Looking for small gains such as improving the understanding of percentages would make the task well the effort.
To conclude, students would always harbor mixed feelings regarding summer assignments. Some will consider them as essential, while others will dismiss them as tedious and boring. However evil summer assignments may be, they are a necessary evil and will probably remain so.