Schoolwork during the winter break? What? As one kid said to me, “Are you kidding?” If you’ve followed this blog, you know I am generally opposed to daily homework. But working during a school break, especially one that is two weeks long, has its benefits. Who could benefit from schoolwork during a break? And where would this work come from?
For kids who lag far behind their peers: These are usually kids with learning disabilities who need to invest strategically-timed effort to reduce that gap and retain skills. They are kids who are very much aware of their memory weaknesses and have the motivation to keep going. The work is individualized and includes much computer-based instruction. This plan works well for students if their parents have to leave them in the care of older siblings or other caregiver. Students in this category typically earn a reward for completing assignments. They may check in with me during the break.
For kids who need a consistent routine: I’ve created work packets for kids on the autism spectrum who do well with some “schoolwork” time during a break. These are the kids who are at loose ends without their usual school day (and their parents, may start to unravel, as well). The packets are filled with familiar drills, activities, and personal messages from me. In fact, in coordination with their parents, if the work comes from me, the kids will do it. Otherwise, all bets are off. The goal of these packets is not so much academic as it is functional. The packets typically include links to computer-based instruction as well. Not all ASD kids will respond well to this plan, especially those twice exceptional kids (see below), but it’s been very helpful for some.
Which kids do not benefit from schoolwork during a long break?
Kids who are burned out from school work. These are often the kids who are also anxious about their school performance. Twice exceptional kids typically fall in this group. The last thing they need is a reminder of dreaded school days. Instead, they should occupy their time with lots of physical activity and special interests. This population is already at risk for melting down before school ends, so they need to “forget” about school for a while.
One note: These guidelines are for a two-week break. The longer summer break has unique pros and cons for many special needs kids.