Abolish Summer Homework

In yesterday’s post, I wrote that guidelines issued by the New York State Board of Education provide that when a school requires summer homework, it must comply with a set of rules. But from what I can tell, schools don’t comply with those rules and continue their summer homework assignments as they have in the past.

If your children have received summer homework assignments, or are about to, why not nip the problem in the bud?

Here’s what you can do:

1. Call your school’s principal. If you’re in a state with guidelines like New York’s, ask your principal whether your school will be following the guidelines. If s/he’s unaware of them, offer to send a copy. Tell the principal what the guidelines say. It’s pretty difficult for a school not to follow the guidelines once a parent’s asked about them. After all, the guidelines were issued in response to litigation, and non-compliance leaves the school open to wrath, scrutiny, lawsuits. Get several of your friends to call the school principal as well. There’s power in numbers.

2. If you discovered that your school doesn’t have any rules about summer homework, open up a discussion on the topic now. If you wait until your child brings home an assignment it’s too late. (Of course, you don’t have to make your child do the assignment. And how many children, especially those in elementary school, would actually do an assignment if they didn’t have parental help? Let the school see what happens when parents resist.)

3. Get together with a few of your friends and ask the principal or department head for a meeting. Tell them how summer assignments affect your family. Read a little about the problems with assigned reading so that you can make strong arguments:

    * An article on summer reading in USA Today, cites a recent study by Richard Allington, a researcher and author of many books on literacy. Allington and colleagues selected students in 17 high-poverty elementary schools in Florida and, for three consecutive years, gave each child 12 books, from a list the students provided, on the last day of school. No assignment came along with the books–no reading log, no essay, not even an order to read them. Three years later, researchers found that those students who received books had “significantly higher” reading scores and read more on their own each summer than the 478 who didn’t get books. (I’m sure that any school that gave students books from a list of their own choosing would see the same results–students who like to read more and, as a result, students with better comprehension, better written and analytical skills and yes, even higher standardized test scores.)

    * This op-ed by my co-author and me published in The New York Times four years ago. I think it’s still relevant.

    * An article on reading books you like from The New York Times.

Given the pressures most students face during the school year from high-stakes testing, homework, and extracurricular activities, summer should be seen as a time to explore passions, get outside, read for pleasure, hang out with friends, work a summer job (if one can be found), become a little more independent, etc. These are where students learn to problem solve, be responsible, make good use of their time, in short the kinds of learning experiences most students don’t have time for during the school year. And these life skills are ones that will serve them well in the future, undoubtedly more than most of what they learn in school.

In sum, gather a few of your friends and talk to the people who assign homework at your school. Explain why summer homework doesn’t work in your family and why you’re opposed to it. And let me know what happens.

65 thoughts on “Abolish Summer Homework

  1. Isn’t it called Summer “VACATION”?

    It is ridiculous how much work I’m expected to do this summer!

    1. I’m taking an online class (The only reason I’m doing this, is so that I could have at least 2 electives instead of only 1.)
    Which is completely stressing me out and I’m falling behind.

    2. I have to read a 500 page book and write 5 ESSAYS about it!

    3. I have to attend “Band Camp” a week BEFORE school starts. EVERYDAY! MONDAY – FRIDAY!!

    I’m starting High school this year, and I am so miserable because of all of the work I’am expected to do!

    The worst part about this is that I’m spending my summer with my Dad, who I only see once a year! So instead of getting to spend as much time as possible with him, I am forced to work 2 hrs. on my online class A DAY, and I spend about another hour reading the book (which I am nowhere near done with, and I only have 3 weeks left before school starts)

    So My High school experience is already down the toilet,a and it hasn’t even started!


  2. This is my miserable summer vacation
    First of i have got all the 3 stupid practicals that i have to do all summer which has got like more than 50 experiments each. And still i have got homework from that subject again. I mean this is CRAZY!!
    Then i have extra home work for other subjects.
    Also after vacations there are exams coming and i am frustrated like hell!!
    My mom and dad are outside in another country and i couldnt go there becausei had so much home work to do, so UNFAIR UNFAIR UNFAIR!!
    In our religion we have to fast in july everyday from 4am to 7pm we cant eat anything, hoemw the hell am i supposed to do homework with an empty stomach, TELL ME! COULD DO 150 EXPERIMENTS WITH HOMEWORK AND LEARN FOR EXAMS AT THE SAMETIME AND CANTEAT ANYTHING TILL 7?
    And my favourite cousins wedding is being held and i cant go there cause of this STUPID HELL HOMEWORK!! Summer vacation is for refreshing, going out with friends. Going to upcoming events, meeting people having fun relaxing , u you can do a bit reading or learning no harm in it, just twice a week would do but this us INSANE!!


  3. I agree, and say as most nearly all of the others have said, that summer homework is pointless. It just adds more stress on a students very little free time that they have. I mean, we give teachers our best for 9+ straight months and they can’t even give us a full 3. Summer homework is the ominous cloud hanging over many students lives during summer and should be taken away. Just give us, the students, the very much needed free time during a very minute summer. I am still very busy during the summer so it is still very hard to get a lot of things done so I hope things will change when it comes to summer homework. It’s called a break for a reason!!!


  4. My name is Isabella, I agree with some problems of summer vacation homework. But on the other end, when students have no homework in vacations they become lazy and stay idle much time. I think, these two solutions will help you in this situation,
    a) Join summer camps.
    b) Get online tutor
    I think, second options is best for getting the high grade in schools exams, you need to arrange an online instructor/tutor, who provide you customize help regarding your selected subjects especially math and computer science subjects. This option should be affordable and your children fond the experts tutor help virtually.


  5. Summer homework is absolutely 100% ridiculous and just flat out unfair to students. I mean, really, think about it. We spend the entire year stressing about homework, projects, speeches, finals, etc. and what do they reward us with? More stress. Teachers give out homework over summer break because it makes their jobs that much easier not having to teach us the stuff they assign. We’re only kids, not robots. Seriously, is one just ONE break too much to ask for nowadays?


  6. This summer I have to study for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and SAT subject tests. I also was assigned a large AP Biology assignment to take pictures of many different kinds of animals and relationships between organisms that are almost impossible to find in the place where I am spending my summer (where I am interning and doing my non school assigned work). On top of that I have to read a book that is 650 pages long and write a 15 page critical review on it which is due when I start school (and the teacher said that if it is not very good, the first impression will stick the whole year and our grades will suffer) and read another lengthy book and start a research paper on it for the same teacher. I don’t mind summer reading or work, but this is getting excessive and gives me no freedom to work hard at my internship and take on extra assignments or read books I enjoy. Most of my travels didn’t allow me to start any of this work so I was forced to wait until the end.


  7. Okay, I’m pretty god dang pissed off right now. I am being forced to read a book (that I have no choice over, there’s only one book for them project) over the summer, write 50 word explanations for 10 literary terms (if I have to do this one more time I’m gonna kill someone) and then take a test over it ON THE FIRST ****ING WEEK OF SCHOOL! WTF SCHOOL! THE PERSON WHO INVENTED THIS **** CAN GO BURN IN THE NINTH CIRCLE OF HELL!


  8. I am an English teacher for 9th and 10th graders. This is the first summer I have assigned “homework.” The requirement was to read one 200 page book and to keep track of words they did not know.They had to write down the word and look it up. I do not understand how this ruins anyone’s summer. I do not see how this is asking too much.


  9. I am so annoyed with summer homework. Teachers think it’s “essential.” I think its a load of bs! Why do you have to make us do work over the summer? It’s our only, genuine time off from the stress that school brings. I am entering 10th grade and I’m going into English Honors. I was in English Honors for 9th grade. There were a lot of essays, projects, and presentations. I worked HARD in that class. I earned my grades. As far as I know, honors students only have to do book report presentations in my school. I have an anxiety disorder and it was a nightmare doing presentations. I hated it, but I stayed in the class because I love English. I got a 96 on my final research paper. 8 pages, 1998 words, over 1000 characters. I was exhausted. So many essays, vocabulary quizzes every week, projects, short stories throughout the year. I was so happy for summer vacation! Until I found out I have two books to read. I wouldn’t say the writing part is bad, but it’s a freakin pain knowing I have to do this crap over MY summer vacation! I showed so much dedication and intelligence to PROVE I can stay in an honors class! I have to read a 550 page book, and a 250 book. I’ve been putting it off. Summer assignments are making me hate school more than I already do. I don’t even think I’ll be doing Honors this year because I’m so sick of this. What’s the point of summer homework?! We go to school and put up with all that crap! We have common core now, school is NOT a place to learn anymore. It’s a prison. I am so sorry for the long comment, but I’m just so annoyed. This needs to stop 😦 I used to not mind school, but now I can’t wait to graduate. Summer assignments has made me HATE English. School is supposed to make you excited. It’s supposed to make you love to learn what you really want to be good at.


  10. Oh me, Oh my homework is really something dreadful we should eat more so that we become more fat so we can’t fit through the door It would make it so that we can’t get it, or do it. you like to eat cookies? come to my summer cookout 2019 September 22nd. no invitation required, tell your friends it at 394 gerogetwin avenue!!!!


  11. So I am in middle school, and my school system is odd. We have one teacher who teaches everything except writing and language arts, and then another teacher that teaches writing and language arts. My langauge arts teacher only gave my one assignment, but my other teacher who teaches 4 subjects gave me SIX ASSIGNMENTS!!!!!!!! I don’t know why, but I am only going into sixth grade!! He also said that we are not allowed to email him after June 30, which is unfair to students that are going on vacation and will not do their work while they are on vacation. I personally think that it is BS but even though it is a requirement to have summer homework we should only have 5 at the most NOT SEVEN!!! I don’t understand why he gave us two extra assignments, can someone please tell me?


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