My first years of teaching, I started to feel bad when I had neglected to assign homework for any significant period of time. I didn’t feel bad because I thought I was doing the kids a disservice; it was because I was worried about what parents would think.
Now I’ve been doing this for a little longer (sixth year teacher) and I’ve chilled out a little about those kinds of things. What I’m most convinced about though, is that kids shouldn’t be sent home on a holiday break with a packet full of mandatory worksheets.
There are times when packets simply become counterproductive, and long holiday breaks is one of them. What kind of attitude are you creating with these monstrous tasks? Certainly not the attitude and outlook of lifelong learners.
I remember the resentment and joylessness with which I slogged through tedious holiday break assignments when I was in school. There was lots of stress, tears, and even my first swear word spoken in the presence of my mother (that’s a story for another time.) The holidays are for merry-making, spending time with family, and if you’re lucky, playing in the snow.
Now I go through my bookshelf and put some of my favorites on display on the last day of school. I encouraging kids to borrow a book or two before they leave and tell them I hope they don’t spend the whole vacation watching Netflix. A little nudge in the right direction. That’s it.
Also, when the kids come back to school, I think it’s best to reset expectations and start the year off on a positive note. Pestering kids about the assignment they probably hated doing (if they did it at all) is not that. Do yourself and your students a huge favor and send them home with nothing except maybe some book recommendations and encouragement to enjoy the time off.