This student-authored post is part of a series that highlights student perspectives around learning and executive function in the classroom.
Summer is a time for students to relax and focus on pursuits other than school. While summer work can be a useful tool for educators, it has to be utilized in a well-thought-out manner.
Summer Work: The Why
Next year I will be starting my senior year in high school. Over the last couple of years, my workload during the school year has increased, and so has my workload over the summer. For instance, this summer I’m balancing a job, training for my sports, taking an online course, continuing the college search, and completing college applications. The list may vary from student to student, but most students face a similar monopoly on their time.
There’s no reason to take up a student’s summer time if they are assigned busywork. For instance, my school has summer work for most math classes, all higher-level classes such as APs, and school-wide summer reading and writing requirements. Depending on an individual’s class schedule, the summer requirements vary; for some, the load is more reasonable than for others.
For summer reading to be effective, it needs to have a purpose. For instance, when students take a high-level English class at my school, they must read another book in addition to the general requirement. This system is inefficient as the lower-level book provides no additional value to the student.
A Better Way to Assign Summer Work
How do you make summer reading or summer work benefit students? Summer work needs to be streamlined to create more individualized pathways by giving students work that will help them succeed in their classes. Instead of just generic requirements, offer students books that will give them background information or allow them to view the material they’ll be learning in a different light than it’s typically taught.
It’s also important to know that many students, especially those in high school, may pursue academic coursework over the summer or take on an internship or a similar position that will help them maintain their academic skills. In this case, those positions would help students retain and build skills, so giving these students summer work could cause the assignments to function as busywork.
As a teacher, it is important to consider if summer work is necessary because students need their summers off. They need free time to relax, fulfill other requirements, and have time to have life experiences.
- C. Solomon, Student Contributor
SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org
Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org