Is Homework During Summer Vacation Too Cruel for Kids?

One of the things I remember about facing the last third of the summer as a kid is the sheer panic I'd feel from not having made a dent in my summer reading list.

We were supposed to come back to school prepared to discuss all the books we'd loved or not loved and why. While I theoretically looked forward to that in June, by August it seemed like a cruel joke.

Fast forward to now, and here I am dragging my kids to the library and bribing them with stickers to finish the reading lists that I have thrust upon them.

The debate about whether kids -- even grade school-aged kids -- should have summer homework has only gotten more intense in recent years.

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Making it through a few age-appropriate titles is one thing. But some parents are taking it upon themselves to assign their kids math, spelling and comprehension worksheets, even getting out the flash cards, signing up for online homeschooling courses, and taking them to Kumon.

The theory is that the lag time between June and September turns the clock back and kids end up playing catch-up when they start up again, reviewing old material instead of building on the previous year.

That could be true. They get out of practice, essentially. But if you don't give kids a break from the relentlessness of "work," will they start to resent the process? Especially when you know they've got years and years ahead of them to dive into their books and precious few years left to be carefree and soak up the lazy summer nights.

Frankly, I have mixed feelings. One of my daugthers is a more enthusiastic reader than the other. Instead of counting the number of books I'd hoped to "get through," my goal has become to get her to enjoy reading on her own. It hasn't been easy. At times it has felt forced and I worried that the reading sessions would backfire come September.

But thanks to an admittedly irritating series of Barbie books she's chosen to tackle -- plus an embarrassing amount of stickers and Rainbow Loom bands for "motivation" -- I think I may have gotten the job done.

Do you think homework during summer vacation is a good idea?


Image via trazomfreak/Flickr

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