Is Vacation Homework Training Our Kids To Be Workaholics?

Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

My family and I took a trip to Miami for February break. We did something we don’t always do, which is we decided to really try to max out our time in Florida. Meaning we took an early flight out on Saturday morning and weren’t schedule to come back until Sunday afternoon.

It’s worth noting, before I go on, that this vacation scheduled stands in contrast to Europeans who tend to take two-week “holidays” — as often as three times per year! — and many of them book the travel such that they are just barely skidding into work on Monday morning. Work to live, as they say.

So it’s safe to say I was feeling a bit dismayed when my 11-year-old daughter, a sixth grader, came home in a flustered panic with a collage project that was due the Monday after the break. Are you kidding me? We rushed to print out pictures since it wasn’t really practical to try and bring this kind of project on a trip.

And I found myself wondering — does homework during a school vacation teach kids to be workaholics? Many Americans bring their work with them on family trips — you see them on laptops by the pool, on phone calls at the beach. We both praise and lament this state of affairs in our typically schizophrenic way. Is all this frantic work-work-work good for us? Almost certainly not. So why can’t we give our kids a break for a week?

By the way, I think work done over the summer is a totally different ball game. Of course I think the fact that schools close for three months of the year — when the majority of parents work — is insane on its face. We’d be far better off if American schoolchildren had year-round school with regular breaks that were real breaks. There be no need to worry about skills eroding if school vacations where only a week or two at a time.

But even in the current reality, there’s no reason to give projects during regular one or two-week long school vacations. Maybe they can learn a more valuable skill — how to relax!