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Updated: March 23, 2011 02:12 IST

Homework dampens holiday spirit?

Meera Srinivasan
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While many schools choose to give holiday homework, adequate playtime and fun are equally important, say experts. A group of children in Triplicane on Tuesday. Photo: R. Ravindran
While many schools choose to give holiday homework, adequate playtime and fun are equally important, say experts. A group of children in Triplicane on Tuesday. Photo: R. Ravindran

With more schools adopting holiday homework, some feel it takes away the charm of a break

Many parents and children, who are about to plan their summer vacation, may have to allocate adequate time for what many schools call “holiday homework”. With more schools beginning to adopt the practice, some feel that it takes away the charm of a true holiday or break.

For most schools, the rationale for holiday homework is to engage children during vacation, help them be in touch with academics and prevent the students from forgetting what was taught the previous academic year, according to teachers.

“The holiday homework is often basic grammar exercises in English and Tamil and multiplication tables. They are given with the aim of strengthening the students' foundation in language and arithmetic. They are simple,” says M. Moorthy, president of the Tamil Nadu Elementary Schools Teachers' Federation.

Some parents also feel that such exercises are necessary. John Yesudas, whose two children go to the kindergarten sections of C.S.I Ewart Matriculation Higher Secondary School, says it is not that children need to spend long hours on study during the vacation.

“During school days they spend most of the day learning and a few hours playing. During holidays, most part of the day is spent playing and only a few hours are for homework. I think there is nothing wrong with it,” he says.

N.S. Venkatavaradhan, about to complete class III in Vani Vidyalaya remembers learning and writing multiplication tables during his last holiday.

“I wrote from 2 – 5 tables,” he says. His mother V. Radhika says he was never forced to sit down and write. “He would playfully learn the tables and also spend a lot of time on games and other activities,” she says.

Abhishek Murali, a class V student in PSBB Millennium School remembers his exercise last summer. “I had to look into a dictionary and write two adjectives beginning with different letters,” he says.

Need for a break

However, some in the field of teaching and teacher-training feel education should not be seen as something to do with school-related work alone. Also, vacation is a good time to take a break from active studies and get “mentally fresh and prepared” for the next year, they observe.

Uma Shanker, director, Centre for Montessori Training says that a vacation is a break that has to “let children be” and allow them to explore the world at leisure.

“If you ask those from an earlier generation about their best memories of summer vacation, they will talk about visiting their grandparents, climbing mango trees or playing with cousins. Such experiences can offer a lot in terms of learning,” she says.

Compartmentalising is rigid

Compartmentalising vacation time into “summer camp, classes, homework time and playtime” is a rather rigid way of experiencing and enjoying a break, experts note. Schools and parents need to place more faith on children and their ability to learn by seeing what is around them.

“All learning need not happen in school alone and only through academic exercises. There is so much to learn from experiences like playing in groups, sharing, exploring the environment, listening to stories and spending time with one's parents,” Ms. Shanker adds.

On what he really enjoys doing during his holiday, Venkatavaradhan chuckles and says: “drawing Mickey Mouse.”

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