Teaching Tip Tuesday – Summer Homework

You probably read the title for this post and said, “What? Summer homework! What kind of a teacher assigns homework over the summer?”

But the truth is, children need educational experiences over the summer. There have been countless studies done on this and there is plenty of data to suggest that after having two months off, many children slip back. They lose the good study habits and much of the information they worked hard at to accomplish all year.

I know from past experience that I often have to play catch up with the students in September. I need to spend a few weeks on review before the students are truly ready to learn the new curriculum for the year.

So I think teachers should encourage their students to keep their brains and bodies active during the summer holidays.

Last year, I gave my students my home address and told them that I would like to receive letters from each and every one of them. I promised that I would write a response to each letter I got and that I would include a surprise in the envelope as well.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like getting letters in the mail. Children don’t often get mail so it can be a very exciting thing for them. The best thing about this entire homework assignment is that the students don’t even think it is work, They like reading and writing letters.

Of course, I only got three letters last year but it was a start. I was really excited to see the first letter in my mailbox. I wrote a personal letter back and included a photograph of the student that I had taken over the past school year. I also put some stickers in the envelope. It didn’t take much time or effort to do this and I know that my past students really appreciated it.

I am going to challenge my class this week to see if they can beat my past class. Hopefully I can do this every year until I get 100% participation. There’s some extra motivation for them and for me.

Of course, I also encourage my students to continue their learning in other ways. I will be sending home a newsletter this week with some ideas for the parents in it. I will post up a copy of that letter for next week’s teaching tip. See you then!

If you like this series and have some ideas or tips you would like to share, I would love to have you write a guest post. Please email me with your ideas, thoughts, comments, or suggestions. Or you can just leave a comment here on this post. I would love to hear from you.

4 responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesday – Summer Homework”

  1. When I was in high school, I was into foreign languages. I then studied Russian in college. The summers in college were when I made my best progress. I used to skip alot in my first semester of Russian, because the class went too slow for me. I got A's on all the exams, but the instructor marked me down to an AB (=3.5) due to attendance.

    I wish I had been motivated in math, and now I am transitioning to teach secondary math, with the goal of getting the kids as motivated in math as I was in Russian.

  2. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for commenting. I really enjoy teaching math and try to pass on that enthusiasm to my students. The strange thing is that it was my worst subject when I was a student. I developed a new appreciation for it from the great professor I has in teacher's college.

    I hope that you transition goes well. I am sure you will be able to motivate your students. All the best!

  3. Hi Chase:

    Thanks for the friendly reminder about continuing education through the summer months. I have a nine year old boy who is extremely bright, but not a fan of "structured summer time learning." However, he enjoys writing stories so I am trying to nuture that as much as possible. (Although he hasn't done anything so far.) Do you have any suggestions as to how to include reading and math as well? As soon as I mention sitting down for a little while, he runs for the hills.

    I also wanted to mention that summer homework could include using everyday experiences as a learning experience through conversations and interactions. There's also museums, state parks, the beach, etc., etc. My little guy loves doing these activities. They are usually low cost and funfilled, quality family time type of outings.

    Hope you have a wonderful and productive summer!!

  4. Hi Nelsy,

    Reading is easy. Go to your local public library. Most libraries have summer reading programs where the kids can sign up and read and get all sorts of incentives. Library programs are amazing because they are absolutely free. Go check it out with your son. Sign out books together and discuss what you are both reading together. Perhaps, you can even read the same book and have a mini book club.

    As for math, I like to estimate grocery bills. You can have your son do this as you place each item into your shopping cart. While you wait in line for anything, you can drill each other on the timetables. You can learn basic number facts for addition and subtraction the same way.

    You can go to http://www.math-drills.com and print out computational worksheets. Do one sheet a day and time it. Challenge him to beat his score and his time. The best thing about this is that it only takes 5 minutes each day to do.

    Work these activities into his day and he will be all the better for it. They don't take much time to do either. Limit television and video game time as well.

    I love the everyday experiences you mentioned too. I wish more parents did those types of things on a regular basis. Keep it up!

    I hope these ideas help.

    If you ever have any other comments, ideas, or suggestions, please drop another comment or send me an email.

    Thanks. It was nice of you to drop by and comment.

    I hope you and your son have a great summer.