A school break is exactly as it sounds: a break from school. If that’s true, then how come we find ourselves hit with a workload bigger than we would get on a normal school day? When a school break starts, I always find that I do the homework either right after school ends or right before it starts once again. I also find that there is too much homework to do all at once, though I don’t have time to do it all throughout the break. If teachers minimized the amount of work given to students during major school breaks, it would be easier for the students unwind and relax before they get caught up in the stress of school once again.
What should students expect from a school break? According to Sara Fakhry, an eighth grade student, “Break is a time for us to relax and to de-stress from all of the stress from our schoolwork.”
Seventh grade student Yasmina Kassir said, “I think of break as time to spend with my family and friends and to take time off of school and not stress about tests and homework and stuff like that.” Both Kassir and Fakhry mentioned that they thought of break as a time to relax, where the normal stresses of school are absent.
Most weeks, students have a solid five days of school in a row. There aren’t many opportunities for students to travel or leave London without missing school, and if students do miss school, then they have to make up for it. When there is a week off of school, most families jump to take a vacation and during the vacation, students don’t want to be focusing on school. “Break’s a time for students to relax and take time off of school, so when we have homework, it adds more stress to our break, knowing that we have to finish it,” said Kassir.
Fakhry had the same idea. “It’s not fair if we get homework because we already get a lot of homework and we don’t want to continue it over our rest time.”
Though some students think that there should no homework during breaks, most students agree that there should be at least some practice that students should be able to do. Fakhry said, “Maybe for languages you should get a bit of homework just to review, once every couple of days, but that’s it.”
For subjects such as language and math, the vocabulary and skills that you learn are easily forgotten within a couple days without practice. However, for other core subjects such as English, science, and social studies, minimal memorization is involved, so much practice isn’t necessary. Kassir also said, “If you have a test right after the break, and the break is long, you could study and review before the test after the break. But if there’s no reason to have homework, then we shouldn’t have any.”
Teachers should give a minimal amount of homework during week-long breaks and none during extended breaks such as winter break. I’m not suggesting that there should be no practicing of skills during the breaks; however, the amount of homework should be up to the students. If they feel confident with their skill levels in certain subjects, they should be able to do the minimal amount of homework that the teacher assigns them. Teachers can also give out extra practice and worksheets to the students that they feel the need to do extra practice over the break, as well as posting the practice on PowerSchool so that students who aren’t confident in their abilities can have optional practice.
Kassir imagined a situation where she was travelling: “If I travel and I have homework, there’s the stress that I have to finish my homework while I’m somewhere else. That’s really stressful because I have to bring my books with me and I have to do all my homework; but if it’s optional, then maybe when I get back from the break, I can do it without feeling pressure to get it all done.”
With optional homework, students would be encouraged to do at least a bit of work; however, there wouldn’t be stress to get it all done. Students would also get an important learning opportunity where they learn how to assess their own skill level and determine whether or not they need to improve their skills. This way, students would be able to relax and enjoy their break and only do the work that they think is necessary.