Pencils, Backpacks, and Perspective: On Summer as a Student

You may have read our recent post on summer homework and I thought I would add a student’s perspective on the topic.

I have had a long and complicated relationship with summer homework since the first time it was assigned to me in the summer before 5th grade. That year, and for a few years afterward, I would studiously complete every inch of reading and worksheets before I’d been out of school for a week. This seemed logical to my nine year-old brain. Get everything done in the beginning so that I could have as much fun as possible over the course of the summer and not be stressed at the end of summer. This plan, as you might expect, fell through. Doing my homework in the first week of summer guaranteed that I remembered very little of it when I went back to school.

So, again using my flawed logic, switched to waiting until the last week of summer to do the homework, in an effort to be as prepared as possible for in-class discussions and tests. I’ve stuck with this method up until the present though, unfortunately, it leads to an extremely stress-filled end of the summer. And I’m talking – falling asleep face first into a book with pencil still in hand – kind of stress. Because, no matter how much I detested that last week, it always seemed better than dragging out the inconvenience over the course of the entire summer.

Honestly, both of these methods go completely against the point of summer homework. Which would be keeping up mentally with coursework so as not to regress. A fantastic idea, in theory, but in practice the groans of children echo loudly across the plains each summer when they first open up their homework. So, it seems to me we must reconcile the inconvenience with the practicality – and this ideally means making homework as enjoyable and efficient as possible.

Some of my particular favorite assignments over the years have included:

  • Being given a very long list of books and being told to read several of them over the summer – being given a choice is golden
  • A creative project to demonstrate reading comprehension – poster boards were my specialty
  • Math games. If it has “game” in it, there’s no denying it will be infinitely more enjoyable than a worksheet. And this can be anything from literal games to those lovely, infuriating challenge problems that take several weeks to figure out

Least favorite (by far):

  • Being told to read several chapters of a textbook and take notes, which would lead to either an exam on the first day of school or an inspection of those notes

Problems with this:

  1. No one was around to answer my questions
  2. It was boring

I think the key with summer homework is getting as creative with the assignments as possible. If it’s even mildly enjoyable it won’t seem like nearly as much of a hassle and a student would be more likely to space the work out in an ideal fashion. Summer is nearly here! Are you ready?