Summer homework on tap for some
Annie Bruns, who will be an eightht-grader at Clarendon Hills Middle School in the fall, looks over a math packet of summer work required of students. | Chuck Fieldman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2012 6:17AM
While area students in high school, middle schools and junior high don’t have daily homework assignments to complete over the summer, some are responsible to complete schoolwork before fall, even if they are not enrolled in summer school.
The English department at Hinsdale Central has a required summer reading program. Students must read one or two books, depending on the class they will be taking in the fall, from a specific list of titles.
Students and parents were notified of the requirement and given the list of book titles in a May letter from David Lange, chairman of the English department.
Lange said research shows avid readers gain much from their efforts and that reading plays a major role in success on college entrance exams.
“Because building the habit of reading is both pleasurable and enriching, Hinsdale Central students take time over the summer to read books chosen by their teachers,” he said.
Students are supposed to bring the required books to English class during the first week of school in the fall. They are asked in the fall to write about their summer reading. The summer reading books may also be involved in other assessments such as in-class or online discussions and quizzes.
Sophomore Aiden Quirini said he doesn’t mind the summer assignment.
“I usually read anyway, so it’s not really a burden on me,” he said.
At Clarendon Hills Middle School, students are given a summer reading list. They are required to read one book from that list over the summer, but Principal Griffin Sonntag said students typically read all of the books, about a half dozen.
In 2011, CHMS students also were given a math packet to complete over the summer. Math teacher Mary Sprengnether said this was initiated because students often lose skills over the summer.
The packets include worked examples, practice problems, and answer keys and include skills that will help students be successful in their particular level of math.
“We are often faced with a slow start to a new school year as students regain lost footing,” Sprengnether said. “We felt that if students continued to practice their math skills over the summer, they could hit the ground running in the new year.”
Sonntag said many students were very surprised a year ago when they received the match packets to take home over the summer. However, there was no such response this year, he said.
“I don’t look at it as homework over the summer,” Sonntag said. “A few things that don’t really take much time are OK, I think, but it’s also important for kids to play and have fun. We don’t want to overburden them with work over the summer.”
Annie Bruns and Tracy Wohlever, eighth-grader at CHMS, both said they don’t mind the summer work.
“I don’t mind the math packet; its’ better to review now than wait until school starts again in the fall,” Annie said. “The reading isn’t a big deal because my mom makes me ready, anyway.”
“I think the match packet is really helpful because it lets you refresh what you’ve learned,” Tracy said.
Students at Hinsdale Middle School also have a summer reading list, usually of five or six books, from which they are required to read at least one, said Julie Liesse, a former HMS PTO president who still is active at the school.
Liesse said students usually are involved in some type of project related to the book they read over the summer, when they return to school in the fall.
At Butler Junior High in Oak Brook, Principal Stephanie Palmer said summer homework assignments are very limited. There is a suggested reading list for students, and students in honors Spanish are given very minimal work in an effort to maintain their Spanish skills over the break from school.
“The summer is a time to expand and do different things,” Palmer said. “Many of our students take courses on their own at places like Northwestern University and College of DuPage, which have some wonderful things for our students.
“I’m not a big proponent of summer homework. I think the summer is a great opportunity to have a break.”