Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Let Summer Be Summer!

Dear High School Teachers,

School is almost over and I'm sure you are as glad as the students are for a break. I would remind you however, that it is supposed to be a break, a time to set aside the pressures of school.

The amount of homework given during the school year is already over the top. More nights than not, my kids have done nothing but homework from the time they get home from school until they go to bed, often having to miss activities such as Youth Bible Study or piano lessons. But the idea of homework in the summer is completely outrageous. It's one thing to require that students read a certain book or books, but to also require that they also annotate it and write ten essays on various portions of the book is really a bit sadistic. Especially since a teacher told one of my kids that the project is designed to be complex enough for the students to work on it throughout the entire summer. And the only students who are required to do these summer assignments which are due the first day of school, those in the advanced classes, are the the very ones who don't need to be doing it.

As a mom of two students who take a hefty load of AP classes, I can assure you that they do not turn off their brains during the summer. In fact, summer is the time they look forward to reading just for the love of it. Additionally, they participate in other activities which are meaningful. In the month of June alone, my girl is helping with a local church music camp, participating in a local State Orchestra day camp, and attending a State Choir camp (all at her request/motivation). Then she's going on a mission trip in another country. My boy is planning to work on his Eagle project, complete his driver training, and other life lessons. And they both always read a pile of books in the summer! I expect that the activities that my children have planned will result in more long-term personal growth that what your summer assignment will do.

Neither I nor my man ever had to complete a summer assignment. And we still managed to graduate from high school with a sufficient amount of knowledge. I was #10 in my class of 500, and my man placed out of much of his freshman year. On the other hand, thanks to the overload of assignments, my boy, who wanted (and had) a math-themed birthday when he was 6 now barely tolerates the subject. And my girl, who used to adore English and writing, is now totally burned out.

You can rest assured that you are having an impact on my kids. If that is your goal, then congratulations on attaining it.

The impact? They have both commented that teachers take all the fun out of learning.

A Concerned and Fed-Up Parent


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quilly said...

Send this to the teachers AND the school district - -then move to Las Vegas where homework is FORBIDDEN on weekends, breaks and holidays by mandate of the school district.

If I were to give your kids a summer reading/writing project I would let THEM make it. "Set your Summer reading and writing goals. Develop some kind of idea for sharing your summer reading upon returning to school. Be creative. You can resort to keeping a journal, but creating a card catalog, promotion posters, or re-doing the book artwork might be more enjoyable." And then one lets the kids come up with ideas and they FLY!

Your AP teachers seem to be exceedingly short on imagination. I wonder why the school district thinks they're the best teachers for the job?

JHS said...

This phenomenon has never made sense to me. Teachers want to enjoy THEIR summer. Why do they think kids don't need a break??

I have an A.A., B.S. in Accounting, and Juris Doctor. I NEVER did homework over ANY school break -- summer, Easter, Christmas . . . nada. It simply wasn't necessary.

One teacher tried this with my oldest son. I called the school office and left a message for the principal saying that he was already in the gifted program and he would not be doing any homework over the summer. The principal called me back & said it was not required and there would be no penalty if he didn't complete the assignment. He didn't and there wasn't. That was the last we heard about it. I think more parents needs to stand up to teachers who try to assign homework over breaks & let them know that those breaks are meant for rest and spending time with family. Not extra assignments.


CeeCee said...

What?!? Send that letter please! Yeah teachers speak of burn out, but what about the kids?? They need a break too!

Beth said...

Wow! As a parent, I would be upset.....as a student, I would be irrate! What about the kids that are working full time in the summer to help pay for college in the next few years? I, too, never had any homework over the summer--who knows if that teacher doesn't end up moving because of a hubby/wife job transfer. I would be calling the school complaining! As a mom of homeschooled girls, we ALL need down time in the summer---we want to read what WE want to read!

bp said...

Are you serious?

I really hope you send this letter to the school, teachers, and even as a "letter to the editor."

You are right, the kids in the AP classes aren't the ones who turn off their brains once summer comes.

This is just sad to me.

2cats said...

First, how can a teacher make na assignment for over the summer when he/she won't even be their teacher next year?
Second, send that letter to your local paper ar a letter to the editor. Maybe if enough parents complain of this the practice will be stopped.
Third, I came up against my son's school district many times. I was always ready to take them on. Do Not be afraid to voice your opinion.
Fourth, I would not let my child complete this summer work. Summer is summer and there is no school and no school lessons.

Mocha with Linda said...

Just to explain/clarify: The assignments are universal for every AP English class of a particular grade. So all the incoming 9th graders who will be taking AP English are assigned the same thing, and it's that way all the way up to a 12th.

My boy switched to regular English after 10th grade, and I suspect my girl will too. The summer assignments just get progressively worse.

Unknown said...

I homeschooled my son for some of those very reasons...requiring too much of a child. Let your kids be kids this summer; they grow up too quickly as it is. Call the school and tell them you will NOT be making your children do those "busy work" assigments; they will be learning life lessons this summer that will be much more beneficial. If the school balks, send this letter to your local paper. Call the TV station and see if they can help you stand up for what's right for your kids.

In other words, the school is really forcing the students to dumb themselves down. Maybe that's the purpose of these assignments in the first place: the students dumb down so they don't get the blame for it. So sad. Don't make your kids fall for such nonsense no matter what the "tradition."

Sandy@Jesus and Dark Choc said...

Wow, as a teacher in a public high school............I so agree with you!!!!!!! As a parent I see my two good students falter under the heavy load of HW often. They are both busy sports kids, and at times it's cRaZy! And summer HW, that is ridiculous. So much of it comes down to getting good test scores so the district looks good, or does not get lower scores on state testing. Oh don't get me started on this subject. :)