Happy Thanksgiving! This year, Walpole High Students will not have to do any homework over the holiday break, and that’s something I am genuinely thankful for.
This homework-free Thanksgiving break raises an interesting question: should Walpole High consider implementing more homework-free weekends?
Hear me out: I’m just like anyone else. When I have an essay due, I use the whole weekend to hammer it out right then and there so I don’t have to handle it during the week. If I know I have a major test coming up, I devote my Saturday morning to studying so that I don’t have to cram on some weeknight. In general, I do appreciate having the weekends to get ahead on major assessments without feeling stressed or rushed.
What I don’t appreciate, however, is the extra ‘busy work’ that I have to complete every single weekend from teachers who think that because students have two days off, they can handle double the amount of homework they would typically get on a weeknight. It’s just not realistic, and it’s certainly not fair.
And here’s why: first, students actually need time to rest. And by ‘rest,’ I don’t mean sleeping in on Saturday until one o’clock in the afternoon (although that is nice every once in awhile). I mean that kids really need to have some time when they don’t have to think about school or grades or homework or stress. At the end of a long week of thinking about the Calculus test on Tuesday and the essay due on Friday and the four quizzes occurring on days in between, students deserve to go home and binge-watch whatever Netflix show they want without needing to have a single coherent thought in their brains.
Here’s another thing students really need on weekends: a social life. Kids should at least be able to see their friends on one night during the weekend without feeling guilty for not having spent that time studying for upcoming quizzes. And even aside from their friends, students absolutely need to have time with their families. Sometimes my own weeks are so hectic that I feel like I don’t even see my family at all until I wake up on Saturday morning.
Let’s not forget, in addition to a need for rest and family time, the fact that almost all students have legitimate obligations over the weekends. Anyone who plays a varsity sport will have practice over the weekend. Additionally, many kids volunteer, some by their own choice and others to fulfill service hour requirements. Aside from volunteering, so many students have jobs on the weekends where they work from morning until late afternoon. Are students really expected to do these sorts of things on a Tuesday night when they have a sports game and three hours of homework? No! They use their time on the weekends to do these things.
And shall I even dare to mention the dreaded college application? Especially for seniors, weekends are a great time to continue filling out the Common Application and to write supplementary essays.
Tallied up, on the weekends, students have make time for rest and for family and friends, go to practice, go to work, volunteer, and catch up on non-school work (such as applying to college). With all of this going on, anyone would be hard pressed to try to find four to five hours of free time during the weekend to complete homework. All in all, trying to budget time to all of these activities leaves students just as stressed out on the weekends as they are during the week.
Homework free weekends could be an easy solution to the teenage stress problem. Administration has legitimately considered moving to a ‘no-grades’ pass/fail standards-based system in the past in order to help relieve student stress. Instead, why not just give students a real break on the weekends by assigning them no homework?