November 18, 2008

Homework on vacation? Please share your thoughts!

Does this kid look like she could use a little more homework?
As most of you probably know, I have a 12-year-old daughter who is in the seventh grade. Junior high.

Now, those of you who remember junior high (or middle school, as many of you may have called it!) might remember that is was a bit of a change from the hand-holding and coddling that elementary school provided most of us. The teachers have room to be a bit more eccentric or picky than those who teach younger students. I mentioned a bit about it HERE at the beginning of the school year. These kids are going to be dealing with people with all sorts of quirks for the rest of their lives and there's no time like the present to prepare them for such.

Sooooo, that being said, 12YO has a math teacher that is famous for giving homework over the vacations. All of the vacations. Now that they have a full week off for Thanksgiving, they have a homework packet to work on that week as well. I knew that was what he did and I really don't have a problem with it. Granted, we don't usually travel over the holidays, but even those who do travel should have a few minutes a day to set aside to work on homework! I mean, budgeting your time and making school is a necessary life skill, is it not?

That being said, I'm sure I would be one of those students that would be groaning and moaning about having to work on my math over a vacation. I didn't do well with the whole 'homework thing' when I was in school. 12YO is not like me in that way. She loves to learn, to study, to master the knowledge available to her. I am well aware that she is on the verge of a huge amount of hormones surging through her body and she could wake up a totally different person tomorrow, but this is how she is today.

Also, the kids who have better grades in the class will have less work over the break. His theory on that is that the kids with bad grades in his class have already HAD their vacation and need the work even more than the ones thriving. The students will be getting their homework packets tomorrow and will have two full school days before they are on their own for next week's vacation. To me, that is plenty of time to look it over and ask the teacher about whatever they don't understand. By this age, I believe the kids should be more proactive about their schoolwork when they don't understand something. I know that some are not, but it's sort of turning into a 'sink or swim' situation as far as I'm concerned. Plus, the teachers are all available through email for questions and things. 12YO has already emailed her teachers quite often and enjoys the access she has to them. Now, I'm not sure if this teacher will be checking his email over the vacation, but I'll be even more okay with the homework if he's willing to do that.

Anyhow, I received a call from a parent of another one of his students last night and she's not happy about the homework. She and another parent (she happens to be a teacher at the elementary school and the other parent happens to be the prinicpal at said elementary school!) both have students in his class and neither of them agree with the idea of homework over the break. They are calling other parents and trying to get as many to complain as possible to try to stop him from giving their kids homework next week and over the Christmas break.

I didn't want to ruffle any feathers with her, but I don't personally have a problem with homework over vacation. I'm assuming it's all review and it's nice to know that their little brains won't turn into mush with no stimulation. It's not like they will have to work on it six hours a day everyday to get it all done. I can't imagine it would be anywhere near that much work. I spoke to another parent whose daughter had this teacher last year and asked her what she thought of it. She said her daughter had about 50 math problems to work on over Christmas vacation, which is three weeks long. That doesn't seem so unreasonable to me, even though she thought it was.

So, here's my question: Do you think this teacher is being unreasonable for giving homework over the vacations? Do you think those other parents are overreacting? Do you think it should depend on the student? Am I just being too harsh for thinking it's not that big of a deal?

I WANT INPUT HERE!!! At this point, I'm choosing to not jump on the bandwagon and complain about something that will seem to work for me and my child. I'd like to hear from people, whether they agree with me or not.

Give me your best shot.


Andi said...

Just stumbled upon your blog...Just wanted to share a few thoughts.
I have no problem with homework over vacation, so long as it is an appropriate quantity and quality, and doesn't require resources that would be difficult to obtain outside of the classroom. This can be a learning experience for any student about responsibility, organization, and even self discipline. After all, who wants to fulfill responsibilities on vacation? Yet we all must do this as adults. Perfect example: I am on vacation now, but I still need to do dishes. LOL
I do have an issue with the policy of giving less homework to certain students. Poor grades does not always equate to "vacation" for a student. A straight-A student may not always be working harder than anyone else. This seems like a punishment for the array of ability levels, and doesn't seem fair.

Liltatgirl said...

I think the math teacher is awesome. Let me get this straight.. you have a teacher who wants the students to learn something, tailors the amount of work to those who are in more need, and these mothers have a problem with it? Do they also have a problem feeding their kids fruits and veggies?

wildtomato said...

I agree with the teacher, but then again, you already knew that!

These kids need to be adults someday, and an adult skill is learning how to be responsible and manage time. When we talked yesterday, you mentioned that the teacher gave the homework out early and he'll be available online for the kids during break. That makes the extra homework a reasonable request because the kids have the resources available to them if they do a little planning.

Methinks it is a great life lesson.

AMY said...

OK so I think that homework over vacation is ok as long as it isnt like so much that then they have no fun over their "time off" I can see how it will be beneficial to kids especially those struggling. I hate math personally and would be a kid moaning and groaning if I were in that situation however as an adult I realize it certainly wont hurt them. I agree with the one who said it is like us when we are on vacation still having to do dishes, or laundry, or many of the other daily aspects of life. I would def say you did the right thing by NOT jumping on the No Homework bandwagon since it does not bother you. Stick to your guns and do what is right for you and your kids. Let those other parents fight the battle for themselves.

latinabubbles said...

I think it's fine. Not only does it give the kids something to do during the holidays and you don't have to listen to "I'm bored" the whole time, but it's preparing them now for the real world and what it's really like out there.

Opal said...

Well aren't I going to be the voice of the devil on this one.

Homework on vacation is not appropriate and my children would not be doing it if it was given to them as assigned work.

Andi is right I have to do my dishes on vacation ... if I feel like it and if I don't the dishes pile up and the only consequence is dirty dishes and maybe some fruit flies. It is not pass or fail and does not result in a poor assessment of my work ethic or skills.

If my boss told me that while I was on vacation I was required to complete a business proposition or to manage an upcoming meeting I would tell them to pound sand. I am entitled to my time free from work because I have earned it.

Now I have 5 kids and you can bet that there is extra work given to the kids who need it be it on vacation or not. The work is assigned by me the parent on my time with the kids on subjects they need assistance in. This is not school work it is parent assigned review work which should be driven by the child's need for help.

Translate that back to my work life if there is something at work I am struggling on I may choose to work on it on my vacation to better myself and to improve my areas of opportunity but I choose to do this work because I can and because I want to.

Everyone (even kids) need a vacation.

Jessie said...

As a student: NO! This blows so hard! Seriously, like, vacation is supposed to be about not working, and I'm not going to turn t in anyway.

As a parent: I like this quote "His theory on that is that the kids with bad grades in his class have already HAD their vacation and need the work even more than the ones thriving."

Damn skippy.

Angela Norton Tyler said...

Kids and their families need a break! It is ridiculous to think that a few weeks of relaxing, socializing and learning in "non-academic" settings will harm children. Stop letting educators decide what you and your family will do every night, every weekend, and over every vacation.