Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Last Minute Summer Reading

     I am bothered by summer reading assignments.  While I look at the pros and cons of giving students homework over their "break," I form opinions as a parent and educator.  Although I am certified in middle grades, I am not a teacher.  I was a stay at home mom for years until my divorce then I went to work part time for my dad and brother in their real estate company.

     As a parent, I don't want to fight with my kids during what is already a short summer over homework.  We do enough of that during the school year.  It always ends up the same.  It is the last week before they go back to school and my kids hurriedly finish their reading and essays.  They stress and become anxious about the new school year right before it even starts.  Another thing that bothers me is the booksthat are assigned.  If the kids had a better choice of books that were more current and of interest to them they might not procrastinate all summer dreading the assignment.  I don't want to raise uneducated children, but I hardly think they will lose much during the summer.  The time off allows them to travel, be active during the day, and find new activities to enjoy.  It is a good time to explore and find sports, hobbies, and other things that will broaden their horizons and make them think in different ways. There are other ways to "stay smart" than reading a book they barely understand.

     As an educator, I can see some of the pros to summer reading assignments.  If done correctly, it will keep them in tune with their study habits.  It also gives them a chance to read a book during the time off rather than fitting it in during the school year.  Reading comprehension is difficult for a lot of kids so the more they read the better they learn comprehension.  Retaining what they have read and learning new vocabuary consistently has to make a difference on test scores.  If students are left with choosing what they read, the outcome and objective of reading skills may not be the same.  It is simply not the same quality of reading if you choose a magazine over  a classic novel.

     While weighing the pros and cons from the perspective of teacher and parent, it is vital to consider the student's opinion.  There will always be a handful of students who enjoy school and homework.  These bookworms have no problem being assigned reading homework because more than likely that is how they will be spending their break anyway.  However, there are a majority of students who are involved in summer sports and are just aggravated by such assignments.  This is especially so for high school students who have a summer full of sporting camps, practices, etc.  The assignment hangs over their heads the entire break and they stress out as they anxiously try to finish the reading and essays before the first day of school.

     Just like any other issue there are pros and cons.  There are benefits to summer reading assignments, but I feel that the negatives outweigh the positives.  Speaking as a parent, I want my kids to enjoy the short amount of time they have and just be kids.  I don't feel like they will lose very much during the break.  In my home, my kids don't pick up a book for fun because they know they have to read at some point.  I would much rather them pick up anything that interests them and learn to enjoy reading for the sake of reading not for just another stressful homework assignment.

     What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree with summer reading assignments?


Blond Duck said...

I'd rather teachers just encourage kids to read. I think a lot of books they assign are too heavy and "boring"--something kids wouldn't read on their own, so they grow to hate reading or see it as a chore. I'd rather encourage them to read about things they like, even technical manuals, so they're more likely to read as adults.

April said...

I totally agree! None of my three kids enjoy reading and I think it is such a shame. I remember reading all summer when I was their age. There are benefits to reading a broader range of subjects with different vocabulary and what they comprehend.