The agony of summer homework | Living with Gleigh

Oh the agony of summer homework! My daughters just hate having summer homework. They feel it interferes with their busy summer schedules: playing video games all night in the family room, hanging out in their rooms all day playing video games, watching whatever their latest movie obsession is over and over, and complaining to their friends on Skype about summer homework.

I have mixed feelings about summer homework. When teachers assign students summer homework, they also assign the homework to the parents. In order to get the kids to do it, we have to bug them about it, remind them where we are in the summer so they plan ahead, and as it was this year, we may have to take them somewhere to complete the homework.

I know a mom who refuses to let her kids do summer homework. Her reasoning is, “If the teachers are not contractually obligated to work during the summer, the students should not have to work either.”

I asked my sister, who is a teacher, what she thought about it. She said, “Every place I've worked has given out summer homework.  There is good research out there that shows that the long break is detrimental to memory.

”As a teacher, I don't like the long break because kids do forget a lot.  I also don't like the sudden onslaught of grading that comes in right at the beginning of the school year when kids turn in their summer assignment.  Do I think it is necessary, yes, and more so now in the age of electronics where kids are less likely to read all summer, or play outside, or work, or do chores, or be involved in true projects, or go to a camp or art class or something, or be busier than using computers and gaming equipment.

”I'm not sure about the thinking that it cuts into family time because kids spend a lot of the summer laying around when the adults in the family are working and running lives.  I always suggest that the students set up either a 45 minute window of time every day to get the summer work done or one portion of a day once a week to address it.

”The question I always ask parents in matters like this is what they want for their children and if they are willing to guide their children's learning year around.”

So with both positions filed in my head, I pulled on my best parenting panties and came to a conclusion of my own: “It won’t hurt you, do it anyway.” I even offered to be the parent to drive the kids around on a kind of city scavenger hunt assignment. It’s a class on human geography and they were assigned to find different unique places of history and infrastructures that binds us as a society. They had to have a picture of one of their team members in front of each place.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. And we weren’t alone. As we pulled into a gated community and asked if we could take a picture, the attendant told us they’d had an onslaught of students doing the same thing all week.

Even though we had fun doing this project with her friends, my daughter complained about the remainder of the homework packet and how the social studies teacher gave them fifty pages, while the English and science teacher had only given a couple. I tried to explain to her it probably wasn’t fifty pages of actual work, but just reading.

She wouldn’t hear it; the teacher was just mean. Then when she finished the remainder of the packet, she said, “Mom, you were right. It was mostly just reading.”

I was right? I don’t know about you, but my summer is complete.


Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is still and always will be right. You can read her column every week on under the Lifestyles section.. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website or “like” Living with Gleigh on Facebook.

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