Q:

The school year has ended. But school is not over for my four children. All have brought home folders of summer homework that need to be completed before the first day of school in the fall. They will even be graded on it in elementary school. In high school, they will be tested on what they have read and given a grade that will be part of their first semester English grade. The summer homework is such a big deal that my child entering kindergarten even has a lot of material to cover. Are other schools doing the same thing?

I certainly don't look forward to having to browbeat my children to do this work all summer long. Last year, I was real lax about having the kids do their homework. As a result, the last two weeks before school started was just doing homework, homework, homework! -- Too Much Work

A:

Your children's school is not out of step, as more and more schools are assigning summer work. The reasoning behind this is that it keeps students' school skills sharp -- especially for those who have the traditional long summer break of up to 70 days. Students who do not do some work in the summer will on average suffer a learning loss equivalent to about 1 month. This figure varies with subject matter and family income. Typically, students score lower at the end of summer than at the end of the school year on the same standardized tests. Students who are reluctant to do any summer work should be reminded that failure to do this work will put them behind their classmates at the start of the next school year.

Admittedly, summer is a time to relax and largely forget about school. Parents can keep it that way if they and their children organize how the summer homework will be handled. Before your children start any of the assignments, give them a say in when they will do them. You could suggest that they take a short break from these assignments after school is over and before it begins again. Another suggestion is that they only work on the assignments four days a week until all the homework is completed.