For many families, winter break is a time to relax, have fun, and spend some quality time together. Both parents and children relish in the break they have outside of their academic and professional lives. However, sometimes during the winter break, children are left with too much free time, and parents want their children to spend at least some of that free time on academics. After all, learning loss is a real concern. So, a great debate has risen: should students have homework over break, or should they have time to just be kids? The answer to this question isn’t quite clear: there are definite advantages to staying sharp during breaks, but it is also important that children have time to decompress during these times, as well.
Winter Break: A time for relaxation or a time for productivity?
Winter break starts out as fun for the whole family. You finally get to spend quality time with your children and do things that have been on your wish-list for months. However, after a few days, the questions and complaints start coming: “I’m bored;” “What should I do?” As a parent, these questions can get to you; you don’t want your children to spend hours watching TV or playing video games. This is why homework can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. Students can spend some time involved in a productive activity, which will make both you and your child feel good.
On the other hand, if students have too much homework, they won’t have any free time to recover from the stresses that school brings. Kids, just like adults, need time away from their daily responsibilities; they’ll come back from vacation relaxed and ready to work. Children also learn from spending time with family and friends, especially if those activities are active rather than passive: cooking, going to the museum, visiting the library, reading a book together, etc.
Spending time idle or spending time active are personal choices. Think about your priorities and goals for your kids: What do you want them to achieve during this time? Balancing the two is probably what I would suggest, but at the end of the day, the decision is yours as the parent.
Finding a Balance between Homework and Free Time During Winter Break
Whether you think homework during winter break is good or bad, chances are that your child’s teacher will assign at least some homework, so it’s important to find a balance. In an older blog post, we suggest some excellent homework tips that I encourage you to use especially during winter break when it’s hard for students to focus.
It’s tempting for students to put off their homework until the last minute, especially when they’re distracted by a long break and believe they have a lot of time. Help your child by breaking up the assignments into smaller sections. A little work each day will make the tasks seem more doable, and he or she will still have time to do fun or relaxing activities afterward. Children will also retain more this way: chances are, if they wait until 2 weeks later, they will forget instructions or skills that their teachers taught them prior to break. Splitting up work will save a lot of stress and tears, and they’ll probably learn a lot more in the process.
In short, I believe it’s important to just find a balance—do what you feel is right for you and your child. The most valuable thing you can do is to set up a system that is beneficial to everyone in the family.
Do you think students should have homework over winter break? How do you encourage learning over long breaks?
Author: Becky Adams, Curriculum Manager at A Grade Ahead