Dear Teachers, Please Stop Assigning Summer Homework

As a former teacher, I know about summer learning loss. There is no denying the learning lag; two months is a while to go without flexing the brain muscles. Still, I’m not convinced that the benefits of summer assignments outweigh the cost, and as a mother of 9- and 7-year-old boys, I abhor homework over summer break (also applies to holiday breaks).

You don’t have their buy-in.

Even as an adult, I don’t like doing work outside of work (it’s one of the main reasons I left teaching). My children aren’t enthusiastic about doing homework during the school year, so in the summer, it’s even more challenging to engage them. That’s what makes this hard, and in my opinion, often ineffective. Any teacher knows that kids retain content when they are interested. You have to have their buy-in, and you just don’t tend to get that in the summer. After 180 days in the classroom, particularly following two years of COVID and hurricanes, they need respite from school. Our children deserve a true break.

The song goes, “Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”

Even a small amount of summer work, whether it’s assigned summer reading or an All About Me poster due on the first day, takes away from other opportunities that are equally as—if not more important—than school. I want my kids to bounce between the neighbors’ houses all day soaking up the sunshine they miss out on during the academic year. We want to spend our weekends checking off items on our summer bucket list without the chore of homework waiting for us when we return from our adventures.

What summers are for

Learning is what you make it.

Just because they’re not in school or doing assignments doesn’t mean kids aren’t learning. My husband and I aim to make everything a learning experience. For example, my youngest loves to cook, so we incorporate measuring and fractions into our lemonade recipe. We appreciate art, so we’re all going to the Van Gogh Immersive Experience in a few weeks. At the beach last weekend, we encountered unfamiliar sea life that resembled jellyfish. We did some quick research together and learned all about the harmless salp that had washed up alongside us. All of the above are educational opportunities that didn’t involve the often superficial DIY learning of mandated summer assignments.

Between our regular summer experiences and reading for pleasure, we, as most families, do a good job nourishing their minds. Summer is short enough as it is, and I hate for the kids to spend time on extra work during what is supposed to be time off. Teachers, please stop tasking your students with work to be completed over the summer.

Alyson lives in Metairie with her husband, Patrick, their 10- and 7-year-old boys, and their Morkie, Beignet. After teaching for almost ten years, she left a career in education, earned her BSN, and now works as a pediatric emergency nurse. In her free time, Alyson enjoys flipping furniture, writing, dancing, and painting. She is always looking for a racquetball partner and loves streetcar rides and playing board games with her family. A good cook, she is constantly on a quest to answer the age-old question, “What’s for dinner?” but has thus far been unsuccessful.

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