Posted by: thewhitesintokyo | August 31, 2009

Summer Homework

New York Times Editorial: The Crush of Summer Homework

The link above will bring you to a discussion by five people who care about kids, and they’ll share their perspectives on summer homework.  Here’s my perspective as an international elementary teacher in Japan:

I always see a marked loss in skills when my students have the summer off and don’t have many engaging learning experiences.  So, I have always supported the basic “keep something going in the summer” programs that schools often assign.  My favorite for elementary students is when they get to check out as many books as they want to from the library and are given a goal (20 books, 500 pages, etc.) to work toward.

With my students, for most of which English is a second, third, or fourth language not usually spoken at home, it is absolutely essential that they keep reading over the summer.  They can read Dr. Seuss, Gross Guinness Record Facts, cereal boxes or Harry Potter.  But they have to keep reading!

In the States, I would see a similar need for English Language Learners and students in low-income areas where their summer isn’t filled with travel and trips to the zoo.  Their need for school-skill maintenance is much higher because their family’s lifestyle doesn’t tend to support learning that can be applied academically.

My students and I had a fantastic first week this year, and I can’t wait to see where this group ends up next June.  Although this experience is phenomenally different from where I hope to be in a few years in the States, hopefully I can glean a few lessons from our time here that can be applied universally.

Your thoughts?

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