It’s the last day of school, and you’re bubbling with excitement. You have so many things to do — things you wanted to do during the school year but had to postpone because of the pile of homework, quizzes and tests. It’s your chance to see friends who live farther away, visit relatives and spend more time for yourself. You can finally read those 1,000-plus page books that were too heavy to carry in your backpack and watch those three-hour-plus movies you just didn’t have time for.
Of course, you won’t be relaxing all the time. You have your part-time job, your volunteering and your sports practices. You’ve also reached that age when you have to study for the SAT, but you’re determined to make it fun. And then it hits you: You have homework for English, math, and three AP classes.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” you mutter. Never have you related more to the don.
It’s a problem many students have to deal with. But we aren’t faceless machines, and schools should not assign us summer homework. We need time off sans “just a little something to keep you busy” — especially after 10 months of staying up late and wishing for summer vacation. And yes, we study over the weekends and during breaks, too.
Unfortunately, many schools can’t seem to recognize this. They institute summer homework so that students have something to do or so that they can retain their knowledge for the fall and prevent “summer slide,” a phenomenon in which students apparently lose some of their academic abilities over the summer. However, these reasons do not have sufficient evidence to support them and can lead to a lower prioritization of a student’s health.
According to The Washington Post, a study by Duke University showed that “there is little or no correlation between homework and standardized test scores or long-term achievement.” If most kids are not affected by the summer, it seems a little unreasonable for everyone to receive work that has virtually no point.
Additionally, more homework means less time outside. This has a negative effect on both one’s physical and mental health. Time Magazine states that “a series of experiments from the University of Rochester found spending time outside in green, natural environments can boost your vitality — a feeling of physical and mental energy — by nearly 40%.” Between their summer jobs, preparation for college, and homework, students have less time to gain that precious vitamin D. Nancy Kalish, writing for The New York Times, agrees. “[Summer homework] means kids spend fewer hours being physically active, which is essential for good health and weight control, not to mention proper brain development,” she says.
Although some studies showing that “summer slide” exists have misrepresented student scores, as Youki Terada writes in a post on Edutopia, it has still been a concern many schools have. But if students are indeed losing some of their knowledge, is it their fault or the teacher’s fault for not presenting concepts in ways that stick?
To combat whatever “summer slide” may occur, schools should connect students with academic programs like the Summer Journalism Institute instead of assigning homework. These types of programs provide a unique experience that is arguably more valuable than sitting in the same chair for hours, doing busy work. “High-quality summer learning programs can reverse summer learning loss while teaching non-cognitive skills that directly impact student achievement,” Boston After School & Beyond claims on its website. Through these summer programs, students can exercise their problem-solving skills and educational gains from the previous school year, resulting in a fun summer that is not filled with meaningless tasks.
My brother once told me that the only truly free time I’ll ever get when I’m a teenager is the summer after senior year. He was right, as usual, but he should not be. I always think, “I can’t wait to do that after I graduate!” and I hate it. We’re just kids. Let’s have our summers off, please.