To the Editor:
Summer time is upon us: a time for students to relax and enjoy a break from their studies, to play in the sand, splash in the waves, read for pleasure, explore for fun…and summer homework?
What happened to the carefree lazy days of summer? The Warwick School Department is instituting summer assignments for all grade levels, K-12. I realize that there is a legitimate concern about students losing reading and math skills over the summer, but what about the social skills they gain? What about the skill of choosing a book to read because it is of interest to the reader and not because it is required by the school district or the teacher.
I am disappointed in the amount of time that my three sons spend being school students. Physical education is offered once a week and recess is 20 minutes a day. In the summer, I want them to run, to play baseball, to swim in the waves, to build sand castles, to lazily read under a tree and count the stars. They need time to learn what cannot be taught in a classroom or with summer assignments. They need to learn to be kids. Play allows them to be innovative and creative; it teaches them social skills and allows them observations and experiences that cannot be duplicated in a book or a math packet.
My oldest son is now a junior in college. Leading up to freshman year of high school, he was an avid reader. We could not keep up with his desire to read new books. Then he faced the assignment of reading The Once and Future King by T.H. White. With that novel went my son’s love of reading. To this day, he has not picked up a book for pleasure. He reads magazines, websites, etc., but he has yet to pick up a book to read for the heck of it. Summer reading is important, but so is reading for the simple pleasure of reading. I want to nurture the love of reading in my children, not completing an additional assignment or two over the summer. I want to visit the library and let them roam the stacks to choose books of all nature simply because they pique their interest.
The assignment checklists are available on the Warwick School Department website; I look forward to reviewing the choices for summer reading, but honestly, summer is here and instead of enjoying a fine Rhode Island summer, it is time for more school work. When do our children get to be children? They have the rest of their lives to grow up.