Should I Give My Child Extra Homework Over the Summer?

We all want our kids to do well at school, but most parents also understand that school can be tiring for our children, and summer is their time to have a break. So, there’s a conundrum: Give kids a break, or keep their brains occupied with extra summer homework? There’s no right or wrong answer here, and there’s nothing wrong with not setting any extra work over summer. 

But, plenty of teachers would recommend giving your kids at least a little bit of additional homework during that long summer holiday. Why? Well, without frequent practice, kids (just like adults) tend to forget things they’ve learned, and this is going to make ‘back to school’ more of a challenge than if they had done a little extra work over the summer. However, it’s still important for students doing famously intensive courses (such as those in IB schools in China) to take some time to recalibrate their brains in preparation for the next school year.

So, here’s a quick guide to figuring out if and how you should set summer homework for your kids.

#1 Assess the situation

Before deciding on your summer homework plan, think about how your child has been getting on at school. Do they enjoy school and learning in general? If the answer is “not really,” get to the bottom of why. Are they struggling with certain subjects? Are they a quick learner, or does it take a while for your kid to “get it”, but once they’ve “got it” it sticks? Also, think about how your kid learns best? Visually, through explanation, with a hands-on approach?

It’s important to get an idea about the answers to these questions to determine your approach to summer homework best. If you’re not sure about these things, send your child’s teacher an email and ask. Once you’ve got your answers, you can think about the ideal amount and type of homework that will benefit your child.

#2 Plan 

Understanding your child’s learning style lets you figure out how best to organize your summer homework schedule. Are you going to do a big chunk of work in one sitting, for example, once a week? Or would it be better to have lots of little short sessions throughout the week? Perhaps you could try doing one week on, one week off. 

Decide what works best for your kid and your schedule and make an actual, paper plan and pin it somewhere visible for your kid to see. Whatever you decide, try to stay consistent if you hope to keep it up for the whole school break. But, if you find your schedule isn’t working, make some adjustments to the plan – just be sure to keep your kid in the loop and explain you’re trying something different next week.

#3 Fun!

It is the summer break, after all. Keeping things fun should be a top priority. Otherwise, it’s going to be super difficult to keep it up all those weeks. Try to avoid too much repetition and stay away from boring, monotonous worksheets.

Tip: We’re fortunate that there are tons of great resources to be found online in this day and age. Look up cool games for your kid’s grade and try them out together.

#4 Sweeten the deal

There’s nothing wrong with introducing incentives into your summer work plan. For example, if they get all of the agreed-upon work finished for the week, they can choose a fun family activity to do on the weekend, like going to see a movie or bowling.

#5 Have reasonable expectations

Children, just like adults, need some time to relax and “do nothing.” And that’s perfectly fine! Kids don’t need to be occupied 24/7, and it’s good to have some unstructured time now and then.

You should also consider how busy life can feel for kids sometimes – even during summer, many kids have existing activities and commitments like daycare, camps, sports, music lessons, tutoring, etc. There might just not be that much time or energy left for your kid to finish every piece of extra homework. 

So, just do the best you can and be sure to leave enough time to enjoy the summer holidays. Good luck!