The Red & Black

How much work should teachers assign over break?

Many students associate their December holiday break with hanging out with friends, enjoying the holidays and spending time away from school. One thing that many students don't associate with their winter break, however, is piles and piles of time consuming homework. The question is, how much work should teachers actually assign their students over their break? The answer is more complicated than it appears. 

There is one fact that holds true for all homework: It takes time to be completed both thoughtfully and correctly. During their break, many students leave town during the holidays, spend time with visiting relatives, or even fall ill, which means that oftentimes they do not have the time to complete large amounts of homework while on their winter vacations. To mitigate this dilemma, I think that a balanced solution would be for teachers to assign review based assignments. Review based assignments not only prevent the stress of struggling through challenging new material, but also prevent students from losing previously learned knowledge over their break. That way, when everyone returns to school in January, teachers can resume their class seamlessly.

So, what is the right amount of homework to be assigned over break? First of all, I think that it's important that all of the work assigned over break is worthwhile and purposeful to a student's academic development. For example, having students review vocabulary terms in their foreign language class is less beneficial, in my opinion, than having them write a paragraph with those vocabulary terms embedded in it. In total, teachers should assign written homework that takes the equivalent of 20-30 minutes per day for the whole of winter break. While this is not a terribly large amount of homework, I think that it is enough where students can manage it regardless of how they choose to spend their break.

In addition to small amounts of review based work, one of the best ways for teachers to limit the amount of work that they assign over break while also educating their students is to encourage them to simply sit down and read. Reading books, no matter the genre or content, is not only an enjoyable activity, but also keeps one's brain active and helps students develop their comprehension skills. In my experience, choosing to read nonfiction books relating to various school subjects has the added benefit of allowing students to acquire new and potentially useful knowledge while they are away from school. 

When enrolled in a school with high standards like WHS, It's sometimes difficult to find outlets for stress during the school year. Because of this, I think that it's most important for students to use their winter vacation to relax and to take a break from the hustle and bustle associated with their academics. Homework, though necessary, should come second regarding a student's mental health.

How to Fight the Winter Blues


Winter is the slowest time of year. Snow plagues our midnight skies and sunlight has all but disappeared. When the days start blending together, and you need to shake off the December cold, take note of the following advice:

  • Wear a coat! After the snow begins to fall, and the air seems to grow talons, an extra layer becomes your closest friend. It’s a barrier between skin and snow; a cushion during that heavy fall. Coats keep you warm, fight off frostbite, and can even make a fashion statement, depending on your choice. This doesn’t just come from me; doctors have seen countless cases of hypothermia, some of which could have been prevented with an extra coating. Even if you plan on being outside for a short period of time, wearing layers is vital to your health. 

  • Boots are a necessity! When the ice consumes every pathway, it’s important to protect yourself from a slip. Boots will avert that daily nosedive you’ve grown accustomed to, as well as separate the snow from your socks. If you don’t have a pair already, go to your nearest department store today. Some streets aren’t salted, and even more of them unplowed; wearing your favorite pair of sneakers will more than likely result in a fall. The ice isn’t going to cushion your fall, so make sure to put on boots: they’ll keep you from completely wiping out.

  • Cookies are key! Midterms are fast approaching, people feel buried in their studies, and everyone is looking for a stress relief—cookies do just that. Consult your cookbooks, talk to your grandma, or find a recipe online. Then, pull out the ingredients and get baking! While it’s easy to neglect yourself during such a busy time of year, taking care of your health should remain an absolute must. Cooking isn’t going to eat up all your time, and it provides a productive outlet for all your stress. Next time you have a big test coming up, or a stack of homework covering your desk, do yourself a favor and leave ten minutes aside for enjoyment.

December delivers quite the bite. Snow covers every street, frost paints all the windows, and ice is right around the corner. Remember these tips, or else be prepared to feel the wrath of a New England winter.