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Please Don’t Assign Homework Over Winter Break

It sends the wrong message, period.

WeAreTeachers Staff

“Seven more school days til break!” Teachers and students alike have been counting down the minutes until holiday break. We are all ready for a rest from the stress and daily 5:30 am wake-up calls. Students are all looking forward to sleeping in, seeing friends, watching TikTok, and generally resting from the pressures of one thing: homework. Yes. Homework. Schools across the country still give homework over winter break, but here’s my take: Students need a complete break from all school work, and teachers do as well. Why?

Breaks increase productivity and creativity

Teachers need to take a break over the holidays. This has been one of the most stressful years, and we are all suffering from burnout or considering leaving the profession . A true break will hopefully replenish you while also leading to more creative ideas. Once you detach from the daily grind, you can spend time finding inspiration from the world again: through things you read and see for fun, cultural traditions and events, and conversations with family and friends. In addition, b reaks increase productivity in the long run for students and teachers.

It creates space for pleasure reading

Ask high school students when they last read a book for fun, and many will name something they read in junior high or even late elementary school. This isn’t necessarily because the student doesn’t like reading or prefers to play video games. Often it’s because books have become another thing to study in English class and not something to pursue on their own time. English teachers around the country have a great opportunity to “assign” reading for pleasure, without the obligation to take notes, annotate, track pages, and do other school-like tasks. When they return, converse with any students who  read over break, and you may be surprised by the authentic conversations that came with the opportunity to read for fun.

The final product isn’t worth it

Homework, in general, has come under fire in the past few years as not only unnecessary, but possibly harmful. Harris Cooper writes in The Battle over Homework : “Too much homework may diminish its effectiveness or even become counterproductive.” If this is the norm during the school year, we can infer that homework over winter break is going to be even less productive than normal, as students and their families are pursuing rest, relationship-building activities, and preparing for the holidays. Let’s think ahead a few weeks to what type of essay, worksheet, or project quality you will receive in those early weeks of January.

Start fresh for renewed motivation

Some schools use the holiday break as a natural space between the two semesters, as finals have just ended for many high schools and quarter three begins in January. Students are well aware that this break between quarters means you are not in the middle of a teaching unit, so assigned work can come off as extra or unnecessary busywork. They are called finals, after all, and students need a clean break between the successes or failures of the first semester and the beginning of the second. Work assigned between the two may be given without much context (are you really going to be able to present a fresh unit on their way out for break to contextualize homework you are giving?).

It sends the wrong message about work-life balance

Assigning work over break tells students and families that you don’t value their time together, learning outside of the classroom, or cultural traditions. Most teachers don’t feel that way, so don’t let your potential zeal to make it through the curriculum map create that perception. Model balance yourself by talking to your students about your plans over break and asking about theirs. Discussing the power of sleep, exercise, breaks, and quality time with loved ones both in this season and throughout the year might be the most important thing you teach them.

We’d love to hear—will you assign homework over winter break? Why or why not? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, why we shouldn’t assign work on snow days, either..

Please Don't Assign Homework Over Winter Break

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We Write It, You Decide

Should students have homework over breaks, a year of remote learning has put many students behind in school. is homework over the holidays the answer to getting teens back on track  .

The holidays are nearly here! It’s time to enjoy your favorite treats, visit with family and friends, and maybe even unwrap a big pile of . . . homework?

Assignments over winter break probably aren’t on your wish list. But some educators believe giving homework during school vacations is necessary to help students stay sharp—especially now. 

More than 70 percent of U.S. students in grades K-12 attended classes remotely for at least part of this past school year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Months of school shutdowns and virtual classes have caused many teens to fall behind. Doing homework over winter break, some experts say, could help kids catch up.

But others argue that hitting the books over the holidays isn’t the answer. They say students need downtime—and that homework serves little purpose anyway. 

Should students have homework over school breaks? Keep reading, then decide what you think.

Homework Is Helpful

Many people across the U.S. are concerned that teens’ grades are suffering because of the pandemic. They support homework during winter break to help kids get back on track. But plenty of others are in favor of assignments during vacations even during normal school years. They say homework helps prevent students from forgetting what they’ve learned. Plus, they add, teachers shouldn’t have to spend time reviewing old lessons when classes start again. 

Homework over the holidays also helps students practice their skills, explains Janine Bempechat. She studies human development at Boston University in Massachusetts. 

“Consistent practice is essential for learning and growth,” she says.

Average time U.S. teens spend on homework per day 

SOURCE: Pew Research Center

Brian Platzer, a teacher and co-author of Taking the Stress Out of Homework , agrees. Putting in some time on tricky concepts over vacation lets students “hit the ground running when they return.”

Supporters of homework over winter break say assignments don’t need to involve detailed worksheets or reports. For example, students could read a book of their choosing and keep a response journal. Reading, experts say, may help students recharge after a tough year. 

“Getting lost in reading,” says Bempechat, “is a wonderful way to reduce stress.”

Lessons From Around the World

CHINA: Under new rules to ease pressure on kids, middle school students are limited to 1.5 hours of homework a night.

FINLAND: High school students attend school for five hours per day and have about three hours of homework per week.

AUSTRALIA: Some government officials have asked schools to reconsider heavy homework loads so kids can relax.

Kids Need Rest

Others, however, are quick to point out that today’s students are already facing high stress levels, and the last thing they need over the holidays is more assignments. 

Homework over winter break is unnecessary, says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth . In fact, kids probably don’t need to do homework ever .

“Everyone knows homework can be frustrating and exhausting,” he explains. 

Some school districts across the U.S. have reduced or even banned homework. One reason is that not all kids have access to the same resources outside the classroom. For example, 15 percent of households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet, according to the Pew Research Center.

Share of teens who cite homework as a source of stress 

SOURCE: Challenge Success 

After her school district discouraged assigning homework over the holidays, eighth-grade teacher Christina Torres of Honolulu, Hawaii, altered her lessons. Now her students complete important projects before enjoying time off. 

“Taking the stress of homework out of my students’ holiday breaks is important,” she wrote in Education Week . “They deserve an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate as much as I do.”

Think It Over

Consider the pros and cons of having homework during school breaks. Then ask yourself: Should teachers give assignments over the holidays? Or are there other, less formal ways to continue learning when school is not in session? 

Write About It! Should students have homework over breaks? Write an essay that includes evidence from the article.

Why We Should Give Students a Homework Break Over the Holidays

Illustration of a person riding a bicycle into a forest

I have so many fond memories from holiday seasons growing up: the smell of delicious food being made by my Mexican and Filipino families, warm light on the faces of my relatives, and lots of laughter. As I got older, though, things changed—mostly because I had so much homework to do.

Instead of joking with our relatives at the holidays, my brother and I would often sequester ourselves at the edge of the room, thick textbooks open and pens in our hands. Sometimes, we’d miss events altogether. When we did attend, the ramifications could be intense. During one spring break, I chose to go to an Easter party with my family. But by midnight, I was stress-weeping because I had so much work to do by the next day.

As a teacher, I now understand the temptation to give work over school breaks. There never seems to be enough time to do the projects or read the texts I’d like to with my kids, and asking students to work or read during breaks eases that crunch. I also worry that my students will lose some of their learning in the weeks they are gone.

Recently, though, my school created a new homework policy that, among other things, encourages us to avoid giving students work over extended school breaks. Our administration cited studies that raise questions about the benefits of hefty doses of homework.

I worried about how this new plan would affect my curriculum pacing, and about what my students might “lose.” But I realized that my concerns were really about my desires, not what was best for my students.

The new policy led me to re-evaluate my assignments and timing, and I ended up being able to make adjustments so my kids could complete necessary projects without working when they should be recharging. I’d worried about my students’ learning, but recent research challenges our long-held belief that students’ learning “slides” significantly over long breaks.

Taking the stress of homework out of my students’ holiday breaks is important. They deserve an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate as much as I do—particularly if they are overscheduled to begin with. Young or old, we all need rejuvenation time. In addition, more studies are demonstrating the benefits of down time for students. Having unstructured time recharges them, but also allows their brains to build connections that strengthen and improve their executive functioning.

We need to be mindful of other factors that complicate homework assignments over holiday breaks. We don’t always know what our students’ lives are like outside our classrooms. Do they struggle with access to the resources necessary to complete assignments? Do they have stressful home situations?

Here are a few ways we can send our students off on a positive note when they leave us for holiday breaks. I’m trying them myself this winter!

Provide activities that support students reconnecting with themselves, their loved ones, or their community.

While we want to avoid giving mandatory work to students, we can offer opportunities and ideas for learning-friendly activities they can do during their break. Maybe that’s an optional/extra credit project that asks students to interview a family or community member (though we should also provide time after break for those who couldn’t work over break). Or maybe we can offer students some ideas about how they could use their time to take care of themselves or their communities. We could provide reflection questions once they’re back from break, to help them find meaning in the experience. Encouraging students to use their time to volunteer or take care of themselves allows us to help our kids grow not just as students, but as people.

Offer opportunities to find a new passion, set goals, or reflect.

While some students may travel or connect with family, some of our kids may have a lot of free time over their break. We can encourage them to use the time to set goals for the year, dream big and draw or write their five-year plan (remind them this is for fun and plans will change!), or reflect on their year or life so far. We can also encourage students to discover something they’re passionate about, or use the time to pursue something they love.

Deepen your relationships with students and allow them to open up to you.

Sometimes, our kids are simply not given the space to dive deeply into something that lets them tell us who they are. Give students a project that allows them to explore their identity or have them write a story about their lives. This will not only provide some critical thinking, reading, or writing enrichment, but more importantly will provide valuable insight into our students’ lives and help us build deeper connections with our students. We can return the favor by completing the project ourselves or writing a story and sharing it with them.

After the break, see what stuck with students.

Instead of returning from break with the mindset of what was “lost,” give students a chance to share everything they remember from the last unit. Instead of assuming they all had a great time they want to share, welcome kids back with an opportunity to celebrate the experiences that stuck with them from their breaks. Help students generate a class-created study guide so they can review what they learned before the break. This gives them space to support one another and remind each other what they learned, as well as gives us an opportunity to praise students for what they’ve retained. It also provides important feedback for us on what stuck over the break and what we need to reteach.

Ultimately, our students look to us not just for academic growth, but to support their growth as human beings as well. Taking away homework stress over break may cause us to change our short-term plans, but providing them with opportunities and resources instead can have some long-term benefits that can change their self-perception and their lives more than a packet of homework ever could.

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Should teachers assign homework over school breaks?

should teachers give homework on vacation

Most students in school – whether public, private, or international –  can relate to the feeling of looking forward to a lovely break only to have a mountain of homework to complete.

The more diligent will complete it during the first few days so they can enjoy the holiday, but there are several who will wait til the last minute!

But should there really be homework during a school holiday? One teacher known as Sarah recently wrote on BoredTeachers how she believes that it is a mistake to assign homework over the break, even though she used to do it herself.

She wrote, “It’s taken a lot of experience and personal reflection, but after seventeen years of teaching high school students, I am firmly in the “not to assign” camp.”

She said that there was a time when she felt differently, especially when she couldn’t finish teaching a particular unit before a major break or felt like she wasn’t challenging her students enough, so she would assign some short papers or reading over the holidays.

“This was especially true when I personally wasn’t doing anything special over the break except staying at home. I guess I selfishly reasoned that if I was going to be spending part of my time off grading the work that I had already assigned, then they could be spending part of that time off doing homework for me.”

should teachers give homework on vacation

Are students spending the bulk of their school holidays finishing homework? Source: Shutterstock

But what Sarah realised is that she wasn’t the only teacher assigning homework, or who felt pressed to finish teaching what they’re supposed to before the break, which leads the homework to pile up for the kids.

“I was trying to do “all the things”, and assigning work over short breaks allowed me to fit more learning into each semester. Instead of focusing on increasing the quality of what I was assigning, I became more concerned about the quantity, convincing myself that the more I assigned, the better a teacher I became.”

Is homework just busy work?

When Sarah went on to become a Graduate Teaching Assistant at university while studying for her Master’s, she found herself on the other side of the desk and began to realise what was really expected of college students.

“All of my years of telling my students “in college you will need to be able to do this” felt like a lie. Yes, there were skills that I expected from my students that they did need to master to be successful in college.”

“However, skills were more important than me imparting all of the knowledge that I could and having them read everything that was humanly possible, in a single school year. In the end, cutting out a novel or short story was not going to break them, something I slowly realized as I made my return to the high school classroom.”

should teachers give homework on vacation

Both kids and teachers should be allowed to enjoy their breaks and use it as a time to relax and recharge. Source: Shutterstock

Becoming a mother also altered her views on children and the pressures they face in school. She wrote, “Parenthood changed the way I viewed my students. I no longer saw them as just students. They were sons and daughters with parents who were watching their babies grow into adulthood.”

Reality really hit home when her daughter started bringing home homework from kindergarten which seemed more like busy work rather than encouraging real learning.

“When she could have been playing or we could have been reading together for fun, she had to do homework for which I saw no academic value. More than before, I started to critically consider the homework that I assigned and reconsider the value and importance of each assignment.”

“These are the questions I have started to ask myself through every unit: Is this worth my students’ time? Is grading that assignment worth my time as well? What is the ultimate benefit of a given assignment and does the benefit outweigh the cost to both teacher and student?”

Sarah urged other teachers to realise that they are allowed to take well-deserved breaks, and in turn, allow students to enjoy those same, well-deserved breaks.

“We have to ask ourselves how much of a difference that extra work is going to make in the end. I know that some of my fellow educators, especially those teaching high stakes courses in a single semester, will struggle to cut back, and that is understandable.”

“But maybe the rest of us can take a moment to invite our students to enjoy the quiet, teaching them to practice the self-care that so many of us struggle with so that they can return to us after a break renewed and refreshed with hearts and minds open for learning.”

Homework can be good, but not too much 

This week’s homework for parents is making an Easter bonnet and a garden shoe box. What homework has your school set you? — Becky Allen (@profbeckyallen) April 1, 2019

However, in a study done by Duke University, researchers found that homework does actually have a positive effect on student achievement, especially for younger children.

Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology and director of Duke’s Program in Education, said, “With only rare exception, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant.”

But it is noteworthy to mention that despite the findings, the analysis also showed that too much homework can be counter-productive.

He said, “Even for high school students, overloading them with homework is not associated with higher grades.”

“Kids burn out. The bottom line really is all kids should be doing homework, but the amount and type should vary according to their developmental level and home circumstances.

“Homework for young students should be short, lead to success without much struggle, occasionally involve parents and, when possible, use out-of-school activities that kids enjoy, such as their sports teams or high-interest reading.”

Therefore, assigning homework over breaks is not necessarily a bad thing. But teachers should re-evaluate if students are really learning through them, or they would be better off enjoying a rejuvenating holiday with some light reading or a fun project instead of hours spent poring over difficult homework.

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The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

Why teachers should give some homework over breaks


Ashley Ye December 14, 2016

With winter break quickly approaching, teachers are faced with a dilemma; should they assign homework over breaks? Teachers want students to retain their knowledge throughout the break, but they also do not want to overburden their students. Although teachers should not give too much homework, they should assign some homework over break to keep their students’ minds engaged.

Over the holidays, students tend to forget the concepts they have learned in the previous weeks, which is caused by the lack of daily reinforcement during breaks; students usually receive daily reinforcement by attending school. This is extremely detrimental for classes that teach skills that require daily practice to master, such as math. Giving homework over breaks allow students to remember and understand concepts better and perform better when back at school.

In addition, homework keeps students occupied during breaks. Boredom is very common during breaks since students are unsure of how to spend the large periods of time given during break. Assigning homework would eliminate boredom by providing them with something productive to do, allowing them to get ahead on homework, and minimizing the amount they would have to do when they come back.

Homework will also ease students’ transition back to school. The extra work will help them develop a greater understanding of the concepts they have learned. As a result, students will be more prepared and be ready to move onto a new concept when break ends.

Homework over breaks is not only beneficial for students, but also beneficial for teachers, because if teachers were banned from giving homework during break, they would be forced to cram more lessons and increase the workload before and after breaks. This not only will increase the stress on students, but will also reduce the quality of lessons. “It’s not very fair to the teachers if they have to do that because the teaching quality wouldn’t be that good,” freshman Helena Yang noted.

Giving students no school is already enough of a break. During breaks, students can stay home for almost seven hours. These seven extra hours give them plenty of time to complete homework and relax during breaks.

Some critics claim that teachers should not assign homework during breaks because students should not be expected to work during breaks, just as employees are not expected to work during vacations. However, attending school is not an occupation; it is a place to receive an education. The main goal of students is to expand their knowledge and skills, so assigning homework over breaks will help them achieve that goal.

However, there are some limitations to giving homework over breaks; though teachers should still assign homework, they should not assign an excessive amount of it. After all, breaks are given for a reason, and students should not be completely subdued with homework during vacations. Therefore, although students should enjoy their break, they should still receive homework to keep their minds active.

-By Ashley Ye

Photo of Ashley Ye

Ashley Ye, a high school senior and Tide Opinions editor, developed a love for journalism after writing for her elementary school newspaper. She has always...

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20 Reasons You Shouldn’t Assign Homework Over The Holidays

by Miriam Clifford

Many students agree that homework over the holidays really is a form of cruel and unusual punishment.

Upon returning from winter break, you’ll probably have a handful of students saying the dog ate their homework or it got blown away in a winter storm. But you’ll probably be surprised to learn that some research suggests too much homework can be a bad thing.  A 2009 article in the Los Angeles Times , suggests that some districts have cut back on the amount of homework in the effort to consider children’s social development. In fact, the San Ramon Valley district modified its homework policy and no homework is allowed over weekends and holiday vacations, except for reading.

The US  National Education Association  recommends no more than ten minutes (of homework) per grade level, per night.

Homework has fallen in and out of favor over the decades.  California even established a law in 1901 limiting the amount of homework teachers could assign. Homework is highly in favor now a days.  With recent trends of information overload, packed activity schedules, and childhood obesity, it’s no wonder educators are reconsidering their stance on homework.

1. Students are learning all the time in the 21 st  century.  According to a recent article in MindShift traditional homework will become obsolete in the next decade.  Thanks to computers, learning is occurring 24/7.  With access to software programs, worldwide connections, and learning websites such as the Khan Academy, learning occurs all the time. According to Mindshift, “the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear.”  Try to see if you can bridge the gap between school and home by getting students interested in doing their own research over holiday break.  Rather than assigning homework, create a true interest in learning.  They will often pursue learning about topics they like on their own.  After all, this is the way of the 21 st  century and information is everywhere.

2. More homework doesn’t necessarily equate to higher achievement . Yes, too much homework can actually be a bad thing.  A 1989 Duke University study that reviewed 120 studies found a weak link between achievement and homework at the elementary level and only a moderate benefit at the middle school level. In a similar recent review of 60 studies,  researchers at Duke U  found homework was beneficial, but assigning excessive amounts of homework was counterproductive. The research found homework was more beneficial for older students than younger ones. The study was completed by Harris Cooper, a leading homework research and author of “The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents”. Cooper suggests that teachers at the younger level may assign homework for improving study skills, rather than learning, explaining why many studies concluded less benefit for younger children.  Many teachers do not receive specific training on homework. Cooper suggests that homework should be uncomplicated and short, involve families, and engage student interests.

3. Countries that assign more homework don’t outperform those with less homework.   Around the world, countries that assign more homework don’t see to perform any better.  A  Stanford study  found that in counties like Japan, Denmark, and the Czech Republic little homework was assigned and students outperformed students in counties with large amounts of homework such as Greece, Thailand, and Iran.  American and British students seem to have more homework than most counties, and still only score in the international average.  In fact, Japan has instituted no homework policies at younger levels to allow family time and personal interests.  Finland, a national leader in international tests, limits high school homework to half hour per night.  Of course, there are other factors not taken into account in the study, such as length of the school day.  But in itself, it is interesting to see this issue from a world perspective.

4. Instead of assigning homework, suggest they read for fun.   There are great holiday stories and books you can recommend to parents and students.  If you approach the activity with a holiday spirit, many students will be engaged.  They may want to check out the stories on their own.  You can start by reading the first chapter in class and leaving them intrigued.  For instance, you can read the first chapter of  The   Gift of the Magi  and suggest students read it over winter break.   With younger students, you might promise roles in a play for students who read over break.

5. Don’t assign holiday busy work.   Most academics agree that busy work does little to increase learning.  It is best to not assign packets of worksheets if they do nothing to add to student learning. You also don’t want to waste valuable time grading meaningless paperwork.  Some studies show that much homework may actually decline achievement. Assigning excessive amounts of homework may be detrimental. In fact, a  2006 study by Yankelovick  found that reading achievement declined when students were assigned too much homework.  Actually, interesting reading such as  Harry Potter  produced higher reading achievement.

6. Have students attend a local cultural event.   You can let parents know that instead of assigning homework, you are suggesting students attend a particular event that relates to your classroom.  For instance, if you are reading Shakespeare, they might attend a related play or ballet.

7. Family time is more important during the holidays .  Assigning less homework makes it easier for families to have time together. Family studies at the University of Michigan, show that family time is extremely important to achievement and behavior.  Studies on family meals, suggest that students who have dinner with their family have better academic scores and behavioral outcomes.  Perhaps this is only a correlation, but family time is undeniably important to child development. Students spent most of their days at school while parents are at work. When all is said and done, remember what it was like being a kid.  The things you remember most about the holidays aren’t the assignments you took home, but the time you spend with family and friends.

8. For students who travel during the holidays, homework may impede learning on their trip . The Holiday time is the one time of year that many families reconnect with distant family members or travel.  I remember having to pack hoards of books over some holidays to Spain and it was not fun.  I wanted to enjoy the time with family and experience the country fully.  Traveling in itself is a learning activity.  Let students experience their travels fully.

9. Kids need time to be kids.   A recent article from Australia’s Happy Child website,  “What is the value of Homework: Research and Reality”  considers this issue and explains how children need unstructured play time.  Homework can have a negative influence on early learning experiences.  Suggest students use holiday time to do physical activity, such as ice-skating or sledding.    Many kids don’t get enough exercise.  Childhood obesity is a major problem in the United States.    Suggesting students play outside or participate in a sport is a good way to get them to value physical activity.  The holidays are a great time for kids to go sledding in the snow or play with friends outside.  If no one has homework, classmates might exchange phone numbers to play together.  You can suggest this to parents.      If the teacher thinks physical activity is important, students will too.

10. Some education experts recommend an end to all homework .  Etta Kralovec and John Buell, authors of   The End of Homework:  How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, and Limits Learning ,  controversially suggests that homework may be a form of intrusion on family life, and may increase the drop-out rate in high schools.  The authors blame homework for increasing the achievement gap due to socio-economic differences in after-school obligations. Consider challenging your own views of the benefits of homework and try to create a level playing field when considering assignments.

11. Send a letter to parents explaining why you are not assigning work.   You might want to take the Christmas holiday as a chance to engage parents to play a learning game or do some art with their kids.  If families know there is an intentional purpose to not assigning work, they may take the chance to spend more one-on-one time with their child.

12. You can make the holidays a time for an “open project” for extra credit.   Students might take this time to do something related to the curriculum that they would like to explore on their own terms.  Before the holidays, you might talk about topics or provide books students for students to take home.  Learning for fun and interest, might produce more meaningful engagement than assigned homework.

13. Suggest they visit a museum instead.   With families at home, the holiday time is a great time for students to see an exhibit that interests them or do a fun activity at a nearby museum.  Sometimes encouraging these field trips may be more beneficial than assigning homework.  You might want to print coupons, a schedule, or a list of upcoming exhibits so that families have the information at their fingertips.

14. Encourage students to volunteer during the holiday time.   The holidays are a great time for students to give back.  Students might volunteer at a local soup kitchen or pantry.  Volunteer organizations are often at their busiest during the holiday time.  Plus, students learn a lot from the experience of doing community service.  I remember visiting a group home during the holiday time in high school and helping kids wrap Christmas gifts for their families.  This is a great alternative to assigning homework, especially for Generation Y who highly values civic involvement.

15. Develop a class game.   You might have the class play a learning game the week before vacation and have them take it home to show their family.  My fourth grade teacher had hop-scotch math.  We often drew with chalk outside to replicate her game at home.  Try to think of a holiday-themed game or one that the whole family can get involved in.

16. Students might learn more from observing the real world.  Learning isn’t just about paper and pencil activities.  Teachers should also inspire students to seek ways to learn from real-world experiences.  They might cook with their parents and practice measuring.  Or tag along with a parent who is putting up holiday lights or building a shed.  Ask students to observe a job around the house or ask their parents about their job over holiday break.  They might be enlightened to learn more about the real world and different jobs they might pursue in the future.  Perhaps some students might be able to go to work with their parents instead of a formal assignment.

17. Go on a hike.   Students learn a great deal from nature.  Tell students to go outside on a walk and be ready to share their experience when they get back.  Did they observe natural phenomena you talked about in science class or different types of rocks you discussed in geology?  Or can you tie their walk into a discussion of poetry?

18. Tell students to visit an amusement park.   If you are teaching physics or math, amusement parks give ample room to explain the laws of physics and mathematical probability.  This outing would allow students to think about the real world implications of science.  You may want to even plan a lesson beforehand that ties this idea in.  On another level, it allows students to create a lasting memory with their own families.

19. Kids need rest!   Everyone needs a mental breather and the holidays are the best time for students to play and take a break from school.    Kids need a full ten hours of sleep and adequate rest.  The vacation time is a great time for students to take a mental breather from school.  With many family outings and vacations during the holiday time, they will have less time to complete homework.  They will come back to school feeling re-energized.

20. Many parents and students dislike holiday homework.   You want parents to buy-in to your classroom community and support your endeavors with students.  Assigning holiday homework is usually unpopular with parents because it may the one time of year they have to give children their undivided attention.  Instead, you might want to take a survey to see if parents agree with the idea.  You can then send a letter with the survey results.  Taking parents’ perspectives into account shows you value their opinions and feedback.  Students prefer some free time too.  Not surprisingly one student created a Facebook page, titled, “Why do teachers give us homework over the holiday.”   If the students know you are giving them a break over the holidays they may work harder for you when they get back.

If you’re still not convinced, check out this  fact sheet  based on  The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children and What We Can Do About It  by Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish.  If you are still going to assign some holiday homework, at least keep in mind some guidelines.

The US  National Education Association  recommends no more than ten minutes per grade level, per night.  If you must assign homework make sure it is meaningful and doesn’t take away from time with families.  And most of all, remember what it was like being a kid during the holiday time. Homework is generally not a part of those memories, nor should it be. Those days playing outside and spending time with family are lifelong memories just as important as school.

Childhood is over in the blink of an eye.

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should teachers give homework on vacation

Should Teachers Be Allowed to Assign Holiday Homework?

Mikaeel Zohair , Staff Writer

February 27, 2021

Most students look forward to hard-earned breaks, only to be greeted with mountains of homework to do. And let’s face it — no kid likes to do homework over break. The thought of eventually having to get up and do some schoolwork is no pleasant feeling. Holiday breaks are meant to be stress-free times where we can let our minds wander and watch TV all day. Breaks don’t exist as a time for teachers to assign extra work and get an early start on the next unit — yet some still use it as such.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and teachers have had to adapt their teaching methods to accommodate the new era of online learning that we live in. Most teachers have tried to ease up on the speed at which they teach students information, but that means more homework over breaks. There has also been an increase in the number of off-days due to weather issues, resulting in an increase in the amount of work given to students over breaks.

Nonetheless, students shouldn’t have to worry about the science report due next week while they’re on break. Not only can spending time on extra homework affect students’ social and emotional wellbeing, it can also quite possibly lower students’ academic achievements. A 2006 study by social scientist Daniel Yankelovich found that achievement in reading declined in students as the amount of homework assigned increased.

Homework is unnecessary and wastes valuable time in students’ lives. The United States National Education Association recommends no more than ten minutes of homework a night, however, many students find themselves spending hours per night on homework. If students aren’t interested in doing homework during school weeks, then they won’t learn much by doing homework over breaks.

Assigning work over breaks sends students the message that leisure time with family and friends is incomparable to being “productive” and going the extra mile for school. In fact, people find that breaks allow us to detach from work and provides recovery from the stress of school. But not only do students benefit from vacations without school-related interruptions; teachers benefit from not having to plan lessons and grade homework.

Ultimately, teachers should not be allowed to assign homework over holiday breaks. There is substantial evidence pointing to the fact that homework doesn’t contribute heavily to students’ understanding of topics. It is essential for students and teachers to relieve themselves of the stress of schoolwork while enjoying their vacation.

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Are teachers allowed to assign homework over week-long breaks from school? Kinda defeats the purpose of a break

A. According to BOE 8440R – Assignment of Homework Policy/Regulation: Assignments over vacation periods should be rare and limited to projects that began in advance of the break period and extend beyond the break period.

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Common Sense

Teachers give homework over break, cause outrage

Kirby Child , Commons Editor December 21, 2018

Winter break is called a “break” for a reason, to give students a break from the daily stress of school and homework, but some teachers decide to assign work over break anyway.

Homework should not be assigned to be completed over break because it interferes with students’ days off from school. Students look forward to breaks because, “break is supposed to be time with family and friends and not focus on school,” sophomore Connor Koch said.

Spending quality time with family over breaks benefits students’ academics. According to, “Assigning less homework makes it easier for families to have time together. Family studies at the University of Michigan show that family time is extremely important to achievement and behavior.”

Students do not want to have to worry about completing lengthy homework assignments over break since they might lack the time to complete all of them, especially if they are traveling. “Whenever I go on vacation over the holidays it’s stressful to worry about homework,” sophomore Anela Trakic said.

Over holiday weekends or breaks scheduled around a holiday, families may be focused on religious activities, not school. Even if they aren’t going on vacation, students may not have time to complete assignments, therefore making it unfair for teachers to assign work. “Teachers shouldn’t give out homework over three-day weekends because a lot of people celebrate the holiday and don’t have time to do work,” junior Gabi Giro said.

Another common reason assigning homework over breaks should be avoided is to give students a chance catch up on lost sleep. Students often stay up late to finish homework they have procrastinated on or haven’t had time to finish. This leads to loss of sleep, which is detrimental to students’ learning. Being able to go to bed earlier than usual will positively affect students. According to, “They will come back to school feeling re-energized.”

Teachers may think that assigning homework over winter and spring breaks will ensure that students retain information they are currently learning in class. Forgetting information over break could be avoided if units and unit tests were all done before these breaks, and students wouldn’t have to worry about studying during their time off. “I have unit tests in some of my classes right before winter break, which helps me make sure I won’t forget things for the test over break,” Giro said.

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The student news site of Mount Carmel High School

The Caravan

Students shouldn’t have homework on weekends.

Jonathan Kuptel '22 , Staff Writer | November 7, 2021


Jonathan Kuptel

MC senior Imari Price works on a assignment for 21st-Century Media class.

Teachers and students have different opinions about homework. Saying it is not fair is the usual argument, but being fair is not the issue. It is about students being prepared. Daily homework assignments can be difficult, and weekends homework assignments are worse. Students operate best when they are well-rested and ready to go. A weekend with no homework would help them to be fresh and ready on Monday morning. Weekend assignments tend to be longer and more difficult. 

The students have a difficult day with classes, practices, and going to school. By Friday, (test day) they are near exhaustion. Most tests are given on Fridays. Homework on Monday-Thursday is time-consuming. Some weekends will include assignments in more than 1 class. Those who go to Mount Carmel are near the end of their rope by 2:40 PM on Friday. I have had other discussions with the senior class and we all feel pretty tired at the end of the day at 2:40 PM. A free weekend helps to get prepared for the next grind to start. No homework weekends assures better sleep cycles and a body that has recovered and refreshed. Weekends include chores around the house and family commitments. This plus weekends assignments lead to a lack of sleep. This means Monday will have a positive attitude. No homework on weekends also means more family time. This is a bonus. 

Alfie Kohn in his book The Homework Myth: Why Are Kids Get Too Much Of A Bad Thing says, “There is no evidence to demonstrate that homework benefits students.” The homework on weekends starts in elementary school and continues throughout high school. 

Mr. Kohn states that homework on weekends starts in elementary school and continues throughout high school. This supports the argument that weekend homework starts in elementary school and now students at Mount Carmel High School have to deal with weekend assignments. The weekend assignments take too much time and are a waste of students’ time. 

Nancy Kalish , author of The Case Against Homework: How Homework Is Hurting Our Children And What We Can Do About It, says “simply busy work” makes learning “a chore rather than a positive, constructive experience.” 

Receiving weekend homework that is not discussed in class and counts only as “busy work” is counterproductive. Students finish the assignments because they are required to be done. When the homework is not reviewed on Monday, it leads to frustration. Busy homework that serves no purpose is never a good idea. 

Gerald LeTender of Penn State’s Education Policy Studies Department points out the “shotgun approach to homework when students receive the same photocopied assignment which is then checked as complete rather than discussed is not very effective.” Some teachers discuss the homework assignments and that validates the assignment. Some teachers however just check homework assignments for completion. LeTender goes on to say, “If there’s no feedback and no monitoring, the homework is probably not effective.” Researchers from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia had similar findings in their study “ When Is Homework Worth The Time?” Researchers reported no substantive difference in the grades of students who had homework completion. Adam Maltese, a researcher , noted , “Our results hint that maybe homework is not being used as well as it could be. Even one teacher who assigns busy shotgun homework is enough to be a bad idea. 

Students come to know when homework is the “shotgun approach.” They find this kind of assignment dull. Students have no respect for assignments like this. Quality assignments are appreciated by students. 

Etta Kralovec and John Buell in their book How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children, And Limits Learning assert that homework contributes to a corporate style, competitive U.S. culture that overvalued work to the detriment of personal and familial well being. They go on to call for an end to homework, but to extend the school day. 

Cooper, Robinson, and Patalc, in 2006 warned that homework could become counter productive. Homework is counterproductive when it is a (shotgun) assignment. To reiterate, not all homework is bad. Bad homework which is not reviewed in class just plain “busy work” is not positive and could be counterproductive. 

Sara Croll, Literacy Coach and Author, believes too much homework causes stress for students. Diana Stelin, teacher, artist, and mother says, “I’m absolutely in favor of this ban. Homework is homework, it doesn’t matter what class it comes from. What it does is create negative associations in students of all ages, takes away their innate desire to learn, and makes the subject a dreaded chore.” 

When students come to dread their homework, they do not do a great job on these assignments. Making students do a lot of homework isn’t beneficial because they get drowsy when they work at it for hours and hours at a time. It is hard for the brain to function properly when it is tired and boring. 

Pat Wayman, Teacher and CEO of says, “Many kids are working as many hours as their overscheduled parents and it is taking a toll.” “Their brains and their bodies need time to be curious, have fun, be creative and just be a kid.” 

No homework on weekends is not just a wish, but it is supported by all of these educators and authors. They all champion limiting homework are totally opposed to homework assignments. Educators and students agree that no homework on weekends is a good idea. Meaningful homework, a longer school day, and discussion of homework are what these educators and authors encourage. 

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