Christmas is coming and the winter break for schools has already begun. In the midst of shopping, present-wrapping and decorating, one question in the minds of parents of school age children is: should we be leaving time for school work? Should the holidays be about rest and recreation, or should they also be about revision. Some parents view winter break as a time for children to relax and have fun away from the academic responsibilities of a classroom. Other parents worry that time away from the classroom may cause academic regression due to a lack of schedule.
Let’s face it the kids are tired, with a long school term behind them. The argument against holiday homework is that kids need this time to re-charge their batteries and get some rest during the winter break. While catching up with friends and family is a big part of the winter holidays schedule, it’s equally important that kids don’t spend the entire holiday on planes, trains, or in a car going “somewhere”. They don’t only need a rest from school, but a rest from their busy schedule that no doubt includes extra curricula and after school activities too.
On the other side of the argument, are those parents who worry their kids will forget what they learned last term, of course all of this depends upon their age. Continuous practice does help keep information fresh in their minds, and parents can use this holiday time to help children reinforce skills and perhaps practice weaker subject areas. Some teachers assign creative projects during vacations, which are great. Projects that might involve artwork or research are a great opportunity for all of you to visit a museum or library, a fun way to keep them learning.
Schools differ in their approach to holiday homework. If your kids have been set assignments, it’s a good idea to set a timetable early on in the holiday, so that you can work out how best to fit school work around other activities. The kids might not like it, but sometimes it’s good to get a lot of the homework done during the first few days of the holiday. Working on school assignments can also help break up the long days when you’ve nothing else planned, and give your child tasks to complete while you are busy with your own stuff. Amongst all the excitement that the holidays bring, it’s can be good to keep a sense of routine going, especially so if they have exams coming up in the New Year.
As with anything, it’s about striking a balance. Even if there are assignments to be done, the holidays should also be a time for families to re-connect with one another. My husband travels for work and his working day is often long, so for us it’s important that we all have each-others full attention and time during the holiday break. It’s good to leave space in the margins for spontaneous activities too, like a country walk, shopping trips, and cooking together. Personally, I’m not against teachers setting homework during the winter break. As long as it’s manageable, and leaves kids with enough free time to rest and enjoy the holiday. A child that returns to school in January, happy and re-invigorated is surely what we all want.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.