The Easy Plan to Get Winter Break Homework Done

Christmas break homework
Working on homework while waiting for Santa?. Allen Donikowski via Getty Images

You were so looking forward to winter break. You get to spend time with your kids focusing on family and friends and all of the important social connections in life. No work and few worries. Oh, and school work? That will be over for a few weeks, right?

Wrong. Lots of kids and teens have homework over Winter Break. 

Why Do Teachers Give Homework Over Winter Break?

Before you decide that teachers give homework in a spiteful attempt to get revenge on kids who drive them crazy, you need to take a second to look at a few other possibilities.

  1. The teacher doesn't want them to get "brain drain". This is the most common reason in younger grades where kids lose ground over what they have learned so far and waste time once back in school having to review unnecessarily.
  2. The break time in your district lands at the end of a semester or learning unit. Winter break homework continues the process, just like homework over a weekend would.
  3. To help children catch up. If your child fell behind, the break provides an opportunity to catch up and get back on track.
  4. Some kids miss school work. Some parents may be surprised when their children speak of missing assignments, but teachers know that some elementary-age kids will miss school. These kids will enjoy working on fun packets that relate to what they have learned in the classroom. This is similar to the first reason with the twist of helping ​kids who actually miss being in school.
  5. To stay on track with learning the standards. It may be assigned to help fill in gaps that a student may not have mastered fully. It could also be that the class itself is a little behind and assigning work over the break will get the class back on track for the rest of the school year.

The Steps to Getting Homework Done

Now that you might be able to see things from the teacher's point of view, you can get past being annoyed and get down to making sure the work gets done.

1. Find out is it optional, make-up work, or mandatory? If the work is optional, don't think that you can just toss it aside–the teacher did take time to put together an assignment for a reason. This could be their way of letting children who don't have support to get the work done over the break off the hook. This work is often designed just to avoid "brain drain," is light and fun. 

Make-up and mandatory work will be more challenging. These are often special projects that need to be completed at home with parents. Often this work will be grade-boosting opportunities for students.

2. Make sure you have everything needed to do the assignments. Will your child need their textbooks or special school supplies? Is there a mandatory assignment to watch a particular news event over the break? 

Make sure you have everything needed to complete the work at home. This includes textbooks, library materials, technology or other media access, paper and writing materials. Get these items home before break begins. Otherwise, you may find yourself trying to get into a locked school or buying supplies at midnight the night before the break is over. This would only add stress during an already busy time of year.

3. Don't put it off. Your child is already out of their regular school routine. Think ahead and plan out what you need to do to get this work done. Get started early in the break. It would be better to get the work done and have lots of break time left then scrambling the last few days before the break is over.

Make a Winter Break Routine Schedule

  • Best time of day: Your child is used to doing work earlier in the day, during their school attendance hours. Rather than having them do their work in the evening, have them do some of their work at a slow part of the day. Another good time is after breakfast, but before holiday season activities have started for the day.
  • Pace out the work: Most assignments don't have to be completed all in one sitting. Doing a little bit at a time will get the work done without it becoming overwhelming and stressful.
  • Don't lose the work: If you are traveling, keep track of the work and put it someplace where you are certain it will get back home and turned in. This is the final step in the "homework chain." You may not have thought of turning homework in as part of doing homework before. The holidays are a high-risk time for losing completed work. Your child will not get the credit for doing the work if they don't turn it in. 

You can still have fun this winter break and get this homework done. Getting the work done and turned in will not only keep your child's skills sharp, but it will also avoid the hassle that results from missing assignments.

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