First Monday–Take Action Against Winter Vacation Homework

This coming Monday is the first Monday in December. As suggested in The Case Against Homework, and in this blog on October 2 and November 6, I recommend that every parent send a note to her/his children’s teachers, administrators, or School Board members on the first Monday of every month.

Over the Thanksgiving break, I heard from several parents and students complaining about the amount of work that had to be done. Why not try to stop the winter vacation homework your child will get before it’s assigned? Why not have a conversation such as the one on page 205 in The Case Against Homework:

PARENT: I was wondering whether you’re planning to assign homework over [the winter vacation]. I’m asking because last year Georgia got homework over Christmas break and it really ruined it. She had to drag her books to her grandparents’house and do homework while the rest of us were playing games and socializing. She didn’t even have time for our family tradition of caroling around the neighborhood.

TEACHER: Well, I always assign a project during vacation. It gives the students lots of extra time to work on it—and it’s supposed to be fun.

PARENT: It might seem like the extra time is helping the kids, but it often has the opposite effect—at least for my child. It just hangs over her head for the entire vacation. In our family, vacation time is sacred. So we’ve decided that we’re not going to allow Georgia to do any homework during the break. If you must assign a project, could you please give us enough notice so that Georgia can complete hers before the break or do it once she returns?

TEACHER: I’ve never had a parent object to vacation homework before. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’ll think about it and let you know.

PARENT: Thanks, I would appreciate that—and I think all the other parents will,too. I’m sure everyone would be happier with a homework-free vacation, and the kids would return refreshed and ready to go back to work.

If you have a conversation, write an email, or take some other kind of action, please let me (and other parents) know what you did by posting in the forum under the topic “First Monday”. If you put something in writing, please post a sample and the response you get as well.

8 Comments on “First Monday–Take Action Against Winter Vacation Homework”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The tone of this email strategy seems so aggressive and confrontational, so most teachers will not react like the teacher in the antecdote and consider it with an open mind. Even the title, which includes “Take Action Against Winter Vacation Homework,” adds to an “us versus them” mentality that will be counterproductive to making any real progress. Take a deep breath. Approach this issue with less hostility, and teachers will listen to your views about winter vacation homework. That is the first step.

    posted by a fifth-grade teacher

    December 1st, 2006 at 9:11 pm
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  2. Travis Showers says:

    I think that some of the most honest language I have heard you use in your writing appeared in this blog post, “Over the Thanksgiving break, I heard from several parents and students complaining about the amount of work that had to be done.� Complaining is so accurate for most of what I have read in your and what has followed in your blog. Everyone has expectations of them including children, parents, teachers and schools, but we are all trying to do our best to help each other succeed. Your book is hostile, confrontational and plays on the fear, distrust and lack of support for our schools that plagues our media and has made it consistently harder to educate children.
    As a teacher I believe in students have the time to play, explore and socialize and make time for this in my classroom. Homework is minimal and we begin it each day together followed by time to work on it in class and ask questions. Homework is important practice and it seems fair to me that some work is taken home, after all, I continually take time to share, celebrate and sometimes sympathize with students about the things the bring to school from home. Perhaps you should take a closer look at what the schools are trying to do and put your efforts into making changes in legislation to fund and support education instead of rallying the troops against the very people who are trying to help your children succeed.

    December 2nd, 2006 at 9:36 pm
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  3. mrc says:

    As a public high school teacher, I would welcome the conversation you propose. It’s always great to hear from parents, even the entitled and opinionated ones. I hope that I would be as civil as your imaginary teacher. And I would then invite you to home-school your child.

    Once you figure out how to teach all of the required state standards for a particular subject to your child in just an hour’s time per weekday, taking vacations and summers off, then you can tell me not to give homework. In fact, you can make a career out of teaching me and teachers like me how to be so amazingly efficient and effective that students won’t have to practice or work on the subject outside of class.

    Good luck.

    December 16th, 2006 at 8:51 pm
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  4. maurice frank says:

    What planet is any teacher living on who thinks homework is minimal? If homework is at all challenging to the child, it will take far longer to do it, or try to do it, than the theory says it should take. Ruining lives.

    December 19th, 2006 at 10:20 am
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  5. Ally says:

    i’m ally i like reading

    December 24th, 2006 at 11:02 pm
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  6. Anonymous says:

    winter VACATION isn’t a VACATION after all.

    December 18th, 2009 at 9:57 pm
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  7. enonomous says:

    I agree with this article. It is a strong debate and i think that a lot of kids should read this article. I am doing research on this topic and can hopefully persuade teachers to not give homework. My persuasive essay will have some of your information in it and i strongly thank you for these true conversations!

    February 4th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
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  8. anonomous says:

    I agree this website rocks. Keep up the hard work and we might have a homework free vacation.

    February 4th, 2012 at 2:17 pm
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