Homework for the Holidays?

Julianne Sun and Neha Ajjampore

The term “winter break” is often associated with Christmas, snow, and lying around doing absolutely nothing. And let’s be honest: students would really prefer it to stay that way. Winter break, however, is inconveniently placed at the end of the second term—and right before final exams.

It’s so easy for students to let everything from first and second term to slip out of their brains, so that by the time they come back to school, it’s like starting from a blank slate. Although some of the more diligent students may still deign to study over break, the majority tend to procrastinate until the day before. It’s a pain to allocate time aside for studying, but doing so eliminates the stressful cramming sessions in the weeks of school following break. It’s a balance of benefits and costs: one week of relaxation followed by two weeks of stress; one week split between relaxation and homework followed by two weeks of normal high school stress.

For all the skeptics out there, here’s a bit of math: assume that you fall asleep at midnight and wake up at ten o’clock the next day (excluding Christmas Day). If your bedtime is midnight, then it is also safe to assume that you then have about 14 hours to enjoy. We’ll take off an hour for meals, though, so really you have 13 hours. Two or three hours—just two or three hours—of homework out of the total 13 is pretty good. And let’s be honest: on the best week of the year, you’re not going to shoulder three consecutive hours of homework. You can space it out. Odds are, however, that you won’t even have more than three hours of homework over break. Even better, right?

For all the teachers out there, please do not read this and think, “Now I have free reign to dump homework on my students!” This is only to say that homework over winter break is perfectly acceptable and should not be discouraged. Winter break is a time for us to enjoy the holidays, but should also be a time to enjoy the satisfaction of having prepared for finals.

Let’s face it: the best time of the school year is when we don’t have school. We’ve all experienced the stresses of high school (and college essays too, for those lucky seniors). So when the offer of a few days of vacation presents itself in the midst of all of this pressure, we’d definitely want to take advantage of that time to rest and relax. There’s just one small problem:


While most teachers show mercy on us students as we approach a relatively long break from school, it usually being holiday-affiliated, there are always those few who decide it would be a great idea to hand out worksheets and packets with the idea that we will have plenty of time to get it done. The thing is, however, the majority of students have events and/or trips that have already been pre-planned or family coming from all over the place for the holidays, with whom we would want to spend time with.

Additionally, the homework load is further multiplied because the fact that there will be extra assignments given out by at least one teacher doesn’t seem to be taken into consideration by other teachers when they create their own! And then there will be those teachers who decide to schedule a major test or a project due immediately when we come back to school. Thus, the result is a great profusion of work and studying that is expected to be done in the span of a few days, while also trying to balance being present during family time and living in the moment.

So how can we enjoy and unwind on our days off when we are overwhelmed by everything on our plates? Doesn’t that just defeat the entire purpose of a vacation?