School’s out for summer: should my child be doing homework during the holidays?

The end of the school year is almost upon us and kids are in for weeks of long summer days away from school. Many parents wonder if this time away from school is detrimental to their child’s learning or if over the summer they might ‘forget’ some of the things they have learned during the school year.

It is safe to say that there is usually a decline in any skill if we haven’t practised it in a long time, so the same goes for reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers report that the start of a new school year can often involve a review of skills from the previous year in order to offset what can be known as “summer learning loss”.

However, does this mean children should continue to do homework over their summer holidays? My answer would be: yes and no.

Learning is about far more than the ‘three Rs’ so children need a whole range of activities to help them learn and develop into well rounded individuals.

Free play

Unstructured free play is one of the most important things for a child’s development. It helps with creativity, problem solving, social skills, language and communication, and physical development.

Long summer days are ideal to just let the kids free with their imaginations. Here are some ideas to inspire their creativity:

  • Get a variety of materials, recycled food containers and boxes, textas, and glue and let them make whatever their imagination can conjure up.
  • Give them blankets, cushions and chairs to make a fort. It could inspire any number of imaginative games.
  • Send them outdoors. If the weather is not too scorching hot outside, send the kids outside to play. Let them climb, run and jump to their hearts’ content.
  • Water play – If it’s hot, provide buckets, cups and containers of water for cool fun (be sure to always be sun smart and to always supervise small children with water).

Family time

If you’re lucky enough to have some time off work over the summer, make use of having a little bit more time to spend together as a family. Go for a picnic or play games together. Head to a museum or explore a new playground. Take some time to reconnect in a way that sometimes is difficult to do when everyone is busy with school, homework, work and housework.

What about homework?

As I have mentioned, academic skills can decline somewhat over a long break. However, instead of formal homework, it may be preferable to include these skills in different ways throughout the holidays

  • Read for pleasure – read to your kids, with them, listen to them reading.
  • Do purposeful writing activities. Ask your child to write some Christmas cards or letters to family or friends. Encourage them to write stories, plays or poems about what they’ve been doing.
  • Use maths in everyday situations. Telling the time on a clock or using money to pay for items at the shops are examples of ‘real life’ numeracy.
  • Play games like Scrabble or I Spy to utilise and reinforce their knowledge of letters and words.

This means that your child can enjoy a fun and relaxing break from school while still using and working on these important skills.

Happy holidays!

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