Just seven days after school wrapped for the year, my email inbox lit up with messages from the school principal outlining the summer homework assignments for each of my children’s grades. I ignored them for a good 48 hours. But the unread messages sat there highlighted in bold, staring at me.
I barely survived the end-of-year homework and projects. Once Memorial Day hit, I was checked out. I was done. For nine months I stayed on top of the daily homework, helped study for tests, gathered the supplies for projects, and made sure all the assignments were completed. The last month of school was a challenge. The kids were as ready for a break as I was. But we gutted it out and got it done.
And now, less than a week into summer freedom, the specter of summer school work hangs over all our heads. Don’t get me wrong. I get why the teachers and administrators do it. They just dedicated 10 months to imposing knowledge and wisdom into these kids, they don’t want to see all that hard work (from them, and from the kids) get lost in the summer slide.
But in my best three-year-old impression of a whiny toddler, “I don’t want to do it!” I really don’t. Summer break as a kid should be spent playing outside with friends, taking day trips, and going on vacation with the family. Doing everything, or doing absolutely nothing. Maybe even getting a job! Being bored, and using that to explore and try new things. Or learning to just be bored and be okay with it. And parents need the break from managing all of these assignments as well!
Deep inside me, I want to pretend I never got the emails. To take a stand and say “No, my kids won’t be participating.” Unfortunately, I have an accountability gene that screams back telling me that blowing off an assignment from a teacher is completely unacceptable. I’d never sanction that during the school year, what message am I sending if I sanctioned that now?
Thus, my dilemma.
Which leaves me left figuring out how to comply with the assignments, but in a way that requires the least disruption to summer plans, and the least strong-arming of my kids to get them on board with finishing them. Ultimately, that will probably look like the stack of papers sitting on the corner of my desk until mid-August, at which point, we’ll engage in a mad rush to complete everything. It won’t be pretty. It won’t be the steady continuity teachers envision for keeping kids engaged during the summer break. But it will be done.
It appears summer assignments are not the norm across all schools and grades yet. However, from this parent’s perspective, I hope the trend rolls back. Or they become optional that earn kids extra credit or a kudos when school resumes. Encourage it as a challenge, but not a requirement that affects their coming school year grades. The summer break is short enough, and keeps getting shorter. Let it be a true break for kids and families when it comes to schoolwork.