Spring Break and Winter Break – An opportunity for homework?

Posted on January 10th, 2013 by Carolyn Hart in Commentary


Spring Break and Winter Break - An opportunity for homework

Last year we visited the Mohave Desert on Spring Break

My sons’ school district is currently conducting a survey about Spring Break and whether it should be two weeks (or one). This year and last, the students have been afforded a two week Spring Break. When the change to the school calendar was initially approved, it was subject to review every two years.

I completed the school district survey. I love spending time with my kids and I feel that we usually manage to use these breaks well. I am solidly in favour of a two week Spring Break.

After answering three “yes” and “no” questions, I was asked if I wanted to share any comments. Those who know me well, will understand that I could not let an opportunity to express my opinion pass. This is what I said about homework assignments while high school students are on Winter Break and Spring Break:

I would like to point out that “Winter Break” and “Spring Break” should be considered “breaks” for students as well as for administrative and teaching staff. I do not expect my children’s teachers to be working during these breaks. Having said that, I feel strongly that these breaks ought to actually be breaks from school work for my children. My eldest works (almost full time) when he is not in school and my younger son is involved in Rep hockey. Neither boy benefits from homework assignments over so-called breaks. “Winter Break” and “Spring Break” homework assignments create pressure and defeat the purpose of taking a break.

It is one thing to ask students to do reading while on holiday – mine would do that anyway – but asking for lengthy reading responses is ridiculous and counter-productive. One does not instill a love of reading by forcing students to write responses after every chapter they read. For goodness sake, just let them read for pleasure and have a break from “making connections” and analysing everything they read.

My eldest son had a group project to work on over Winter Break. Fortunately for him and his group, we had not planned an out of town holiday. I do, however, wonder what might have happened if we had gone away for two weeks. Would he have lost marks? Or, would his group have had to do his share of the work?

We never “waste” breaks from school. We travel to interesting places, we like to go to the theatre or sporting events and we enjoy family time together. Teachers do not need to add onerous homework assignments to the mix.

I would be interested to know your thoughts on whether students should be given homework assignments to complete on Winter Break and/or Spring Break.

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