Should children be given summer homework during the holidays?

August 25, 2017 Published by

The debate around school holiday learning has raged for years and it is a subject that divides teachers, parents and pupils alike.  A quick Google search reveals numerous online debates on the issue – the majority appears to be against. Should children be set homework to keep their brains active over the holiday? Or is the Summer break the only time children really have to relax and pursue other interests?

Kids doing Homework on the beach

Parents want their child to grow up as a well-rounded individual and the holidays is a chance to help them along the way – a chance to explore, to live in the moment and to have fun.  To play, to talk, to discover new things and to build relationships – Summer holidays are the perfect time to develop and refine these skills.  Some of the best learning is done through play and getting to know the physical world outside; it is not done in the classroom. So it seems obvious that this is what children should be focusing on rather than academic learning.

However, the summer is long, and many argue that children need time over the holidays to consolidate what they have already learnt and get ready for the next academic year.  By engaging in school-based activities, children will keep their brains active and build on their concentration skills.

There are many arguments for and against learning in the school holidays; children need free time and relaxation, but could we incorporate a little academia into the Summer break? Perhaps there is a balance to be had here.


For example: there are plenty of real life writing opportunities to be found outside of school that not only encourage children to practise the skills they have learned, but also put them into a relevant context.  Children could write postcards, online reviews of places they have visited, shopping lists, menus or diaries.


This is another skill easily practiced over the summer.  We want children to be reading for pleasure, and the school holidays give them the opportunity to read books they have chosen themselves and not those the school has dictated.  It allows for extended reading and really getting into a good book; it could provide the moment where a child discovers their love of reading.


Education doesn’t have to be boring and there are lots of toys out there that encourage children to learn through play.  For example, you could practice your child’s mathematical skills through a game such as the Mobi Numerical Tiles (ages 6-8 years)  or refine their scientific understanding of circuits with Hot Wires (ages 7 – 9).  And if you want to get the kids outside, you could investigate the weather with the Little Labs Weather Science set (ages 5-11).

Taking trips out

 to museums, art galleries, zoos – or even visiting another country can also enhance children’s understanding in a wide range of areas. Plus, getting children involved in the planning is great practice in internet research skills, reading, and time management. However, not all children are lucky enough to have these opportunities and some parents will need the guidance of their teachers. 

Homework set by the teacher can be too restrictive and can be done for the sake of having something to hand in. It also gives children less time to wind-down, relax and recharge their batteries ready for the next academic year. But without it, parents are under pressure to plan stimulating, educational activities over the Summer holidays.

It really is all about balance – giving children time to play freely, to build social skills and to take risks, as well as practicing some of their academic skills.  Many activities have some overlap that will help parents get the best of both worlds;  for example, board games are a great family activity and can be chosen to address specific areas of learning. The play diet approach is a practical way to guide children’s activities:

(Click the image to learn more about the Play Diet)

As you can see, educational play has its place – but so does active free play, creative play, and even screen time in moderation.

Photo Credits:

Homework on the Beach by Spree2010 licensed under CC BY 2.0

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This post was written by Claire Gillies

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