Should teachers give snow day assignments?

I am hearing via Facebook that some teachers in Georgia sent home two days worth of homework so students won’t waste their snow days.

Some of the friends are pro assignments saying it gives them something to do other than video games, but others say the kids should just be able to enjoy the day.

(Get Schooled has a list of online study sites provided by DeKalb County that kids can use during their snow days to prepare for standardized testing.)

So kids in Georgia have already missed several days of school (I’m reading five but don’t think that is accurate for all counties), how should they spend these snow days? Should they have assignments due? Should they practice for standardized tests? Should they just be able to read a book or play games with their marooned families?

Are schools within their rights and responsible to send home assignments or should a snow day should be a snow day?

44 comments Add your comment

HB

February 11th, 2014
11:30 pm

Two nights worth of worksheets and reading assignments sound fine, but nothing requiring a computer. It sounds like power outages are likely. Normally, I’d say just let the kids enjoy the day, but they’ve had so many snow days lately. Besides, they can still enjoy the day off and do the second night’s homework after normal school hours just as they usually would.

Atlanta mom

February 12th, 2014
12:01 am

The kids had ample time to enjoy the break two weeks ago. Homework is surely appropriate this time.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
12:21 am

No. Let families have some together time doing other, creative, fun things. There are life lessons to be learned in figuring out how to spend your time when the power is out and your cell phone is dead. How did we wind up with the notion that you can only learn from school assignments? These days provide opportunities for good, fun family bonding, too.

DB

February 12th, 2014
1:24 am

YES — they should be sending home worksheets. Good grief, how on earth can we complain about the schools and the quality of education on one hand, and then grouse because the schools proactively make it possible for kids to NOT lose time due to weather events?!? A worksheet or two isn’t going to get in the way of family togetherness. My daughter is interning with special needs kids with one of the local county school systems. She is enjoying her time off, but noted that last week, it was very difficult to get the kids on task after the unexpected time off — they really slide backwards without reinforcement. Now they are looking at another week. It’s going to take the teachers until the end of the month before they get handle on these kids. College midterms were also happening this week — rescheduling midterms is a nightmare for universities, especially for large classes that take joint exams, never mind the accelerated teaching to make up for time lost.

Burp

February 12th, 2014
6:32 am

Yes! Anything to keep them occupied and limit their incessant whining.

FCM

February 12th, 2014
6:58 am

Our office is closed today but those who are able (have laptops and power) are expected to login and work. I see no reason we should not be teaching the kids this same thing. Snow days in 2014 are far different then snow days of the 80’s where everyone, even parents had the day off.

The kids have already missed a number of days this year, and with Cobb not back until 2/19 (they had furlough scheduled) there is more than enough time to get the work completed. My kids and I pulled up all the projects and assignments yesterday, and they got through much of it in a couple of hours. The work the teachers assign is not likely to take the whole of any given day.

I do hope that the teachers use the time to update their grade books too. One child has had no grades posted since start of term (I serious doubt she has had a 0 in math for the whole time).

Good time to “back log” some for the reading logs…The school requires 5 books/term if you read more, then you cannot count them toward future….ie 4 terms * 5 books = 20 books. School rules say that if you read all 20 books in the fall you still have to read books each term…so when my child gets to 5 we stop logging the books. We put them on a different sheet (back log) and the next term if prevented from 5 we pull one off the back log. The child has read the book, and I do require them to read when the homework doesn’t pound them that night. I do not let them pull more than 2 books/term from the log though.

FCM

February 12th, 2014
7:00 am

@ Ann, in the 1800 kids did chores and school work and had family together time on snow day. Go back and read Little House (or better the prequels) or Little Women to see for yourself! What a moronic idea that learning family togetherness can only come from a snow day!

FCM

February 12th, 2014
7:05 am

@DB yes, the kids are going to feel the pain of getting back in the groove if they don’t have worksheets (at least). My daughter was off on Friday last week as well (not for weather). So they came back from winter break (and Chorus went to Disney), had short weeks through MLK day..then the snow days…one full week (last week)…1 day this week, 3 days next week unless your in band next week the band goes to Disney, then a on March 12 the Orchestra goes to Disney. This term is really shot for the 8th graders.

WitchyWoman

February 12th, 2014
8:15 am

Here’s the thing. If you want a better education, you better get ready for this. What do you think the kids in other countries do. In many Asian countries, children go to school even on their regular days off. They are scheduled for less school days than Americans, but compensate by going to study schools in their off time. Some of them go to school 6 or 7 days a week for several hours a day. It has gotten so bad that the government in South Korea has tried to put a stop to it, yet the kids and parents continue to go even if they have to sneak around and do it. Yet, here we have parents complaining about a few hours(if that) of work over 2 days.

A

February 12th, 2014
8:23 am

I’m all for extra assignments, especially now that after this storm Fulton will have used up 7 weather days. The people who are complaining about it are the same ones who think a 12-week summer is too short. No wonder the U.S. lags behind just about every other developed nation in education and science/math.

Road Scholar

February 12th, 2014
8:35 am

Absolutely! The kids “job” is to learn. And to learn to be responsible and accountable. To have discipline.

“No. Let families have some together time doing other, creative, fun things.”

Let the parents spend time learning with them! You know, parents taking responsibility in doing their job as a parent…to teach their children…to be involved with their development. Learning is not creative?????

Learning can be fun! Try it sometime! And try being responsible.

Real Life

February 12th, 2014
8:42 am

Why not? Keeps them somewhat focused on school. The work should not take up full days but should get them focused on school work. And that would still leave plenty of time for fun family time at home–if, of course, the adults are not working remotely, as many of us did during the last storm and are doing today.

BDAtlanta

February 12th, 2014
8:52 am

My god. Why do you folks feel the need that, since you have to work, kids need to work as well? Let em be kids. They don’t need to be “on” all the time – working, learning, goal setting, jeez.

Life/work balance should be learned at an early age. Something the posters here still haven’t learned.

Road Scholar

February 12th, 2014
9:06 am

“Why do you folks feel the need that, since you have to work, kids need to work as well? ”

So you want them to remain “stupid”? Work builds character, esp in our culture of entitlement, eh? So when will they learn? When they can’t find/keep a job?

FCM

February 12th, 2014
9:22 am

@ BD…say my kids (who slept until 9) are up until 9 PM tonight….they need 12 hours “down time” to learn life balance???? Yesterday they were up at 8. We made pancakes and oatmeal. We then made soup, the kids spent 20 min in the kitchen with me (or Grandma) chopping veggies. They spent about 2 hours doing homework (from Monday or missed on Friday). The did an arts and crafts project with us for 20 min. They played a game, played cards, watched Blind Side (they love it), made a huge salad for lunch, they played with the Nintendo/Tabio. Then it was time for dinner! There was time for learning, working, creativity, family time, and fun. They went to bed at 9:30 and giggled for an hour. Somehow I don’t think they missed the lesson on “life balance”.

Techmom

February 12th, 2014
9:52 am

A couple of hours of school work during a 12-16 hour is not going to hurt these kids. Most in the metro area are now on day 6 or 7 of no school since Christmas break. Our county has mid-winter break next week so they’ll be out an entire week next week- that’s a lot of down time! As one teacher put it, “sure, we can extend the school year but that doesn’t mean the CRCT is going to be pushed out 2 weeks.”

Road Scholar

February 12th, 2014
10:41 am

Yeah BD, send your kids outside in the ice. Then act surprised that they hit their heads or break an arm/leg when they fall! Brilliant!

mother of 2

February 12th, 2014
11:28 am

Yes, absolutely send work home with the kids. We are missing so much school. This way, the kids can stay on track and the teachers won’t need to pile it on when they return. There’s no reason why the kids can’t do school work and enjoy their snow day. Stay warm all!

Anton Chigurh

February 12th, 2014
11:53 am

Yes. They should.

motherjanegoose

February 12th, 2014
11:59 am

I was just told me that GAC is requiring assignments from their students.

Here’s the thing…no matter what you do someone is not happy.

Gwinnett County teachers are fussing that they do not want to extend school past Memorial Day. I absolutely understand that idea since they will probably not get much done with the students, at that point. Even if a state of emergency is declared, I have been told that days missed and not made up will not be funded. That could be a chunk of $$$$.

What are the other options:

Skip spring break week?
Go to school on Saturdays?
Extend the days 15 minutes each for a month?
Dock the pay of the teachers for the days missed? Three days not made up might be quite a hit.

Anyone have another idea?

I see this as a NO win situation.

I do think the teachers who spent the night with their children at school, the last go around, need to be treated to something special. That was ABOVE and beyond the call of duty and I wonder what those teachers ( who had children/pets unattended themselves) had to worry about besides their students.

Guess what, many teachers really do care about their students. I know I worried about mine even after I left school each day.

Sk8ing Momma

February 12th, 2014
12:48 pm

Homework and spending quality time with family are not mutually exclusive. What’s wrong with having students do 2-4 hours worth of homework over a couple of days? People are complaining, really?

There is plenty of time to go around: sleep in + school work + fun & games (non-electronic indoor free play) + outside time + a little screen time (Olympics, video games etc.) = A great snow day

EdUktr

February 12th, 2014
12:49 pm

Only those students studying Chinese—the language that will replace English here within their lifetimes, if we as a nation keep borrowing and spending.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
1:46 pm

@FCM – First of all, I answer the question asked with my own personal opinion. I don’t refer to other people’s opinions as moronic or stupid and I expect others on the blog to be civil as well.

If you re-read my post and comprehend it accurately, you will see that I never said that family togetherness can only come from a snow day. I said that these days provide opportunities for good family bonding, too. The key word is “too”, in addition to the other things I mentioned – doing creative things and learning life lessons about planning for emergencies.

Regarding your comments about the Little House days, family life was very different back then. School hours were much less and families did many other things together, such as chores. In our times, school hours have been extended and homework consumes a lot more hours into the evening than even 3 decades ago.

My child is a self initiated learner. He is constantly exploring and building things from spare parts and things around the house. We don’t need worksheets for learning to continue. If you have a child who is not a self initiator or explorer, perhaps you have more need for assignments from external sources. When my son has extra free time, he likes to create videos that teach other kids how to do magic tricks. He just doesn’t need an adult to provide things for him to do. We intentionally fostered this kind of learning style when he is young and it will bode him well throughout his lifetime.

There is also something called applying what you have learned in school to everyday life. There is science you can do related to ice and power outages and there’s science related to the Olympics (including math and physics). We just did an experiment regarding how to make an oil lamp with only an orange and olive oil. (You can find that on YouTube).

People tend to equate worksheets with learning, when sometimes it’s busywork that doesn’t lead to additional learning. Some kids may need a lot of repetition. Others do not.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
1:51 pm

@Sk8ing Momma – There is actually very little concrete evidence from research that homework improves learning. In fact, some private elementary level schools have moved away from homework altogether. Since homework has increased in hours the past few decades, have we seen any measurable improvement.in success in life or actual preparation for college? Why is there a greater need for remedial classes during these decades that homework has increased? Something is amiss with our methods.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
1:55 pm

@Road Scholar – When I stated that families should spend time doing some creative, fun things, that implies learning as well. Yes, learning is creative. And, doing creative things yields learning. Families can do this on their own. As parents, we have the power to foster these opportunities for our kids. We don’t need an assignment or worksheet from the school to do it.

motherjanegoose

February 12th, 2014
2:21 pm

I love old fashioned board and card games for kids. A lot of learning is going on:

teamwork
sequencing
strategies
poker face ( haha)
predicting
taking turns
sportsmanship
counting
patterns
so much more!

malleesmom

February 12th, 2014
2:34 pm

A friend of mine teaches at a private school in Hall County, middle school ages I believe. Teachers sent home work to cover the remainder of the week. I see no problem with it. I know with my kids, providing some sort of structure to their “home” days makes them go more smoothly. When we were off due to dangerous wind chill, the girls logged into their school portals and managed assignments from there.

Hidden Agenda

February 12th, 2014
2:55 pm

Every day should be treated as a day for learning, even if not formally designated. The beauty of the homeschooling movement and the unschooling movement is that they are changing the way parents and kids alike look at learning and the world around them.

Good Grief

February 12th, 2014
3:20 pm

YES. The weather this winter is unprecedented. Even if the kids could go outside and play in the snow, they still need to stay on task for when school reconvenes. Help the teachers now so that they can resume their already overwhelming jobs and meet deadlines.

To all those parents that are using social media to poo poo the schools, please think about what your caustic words and lack of support to the schools is teaching your children. They LEARN their attitudes from YOU. For example, GCPS is the top school system in the metro, but by reading their Facebook page and the parents overwhelmingly ABSURD comments you would never get that impression.

My children have not been overloaded by assignments, so I highly doubt others are either. My kids ALWAYS have to complete their “work” before they can “play “, so why would these bad weather days be any different. Remember YOUR attitude about their “formal” education has the biggest impact ANY person in their life. If you scoff and moan about a little extra work, then they will go directly to their teachers and do the same.

Stay warm and safe everyone!

FCM

February 12th, 2014
3:25 pm

I have one conducting a chemistry experiment in the kitchen….she says it is baking! The other is composing a piece of music (again). Will they be Iron Chef and American Idol winners? No idea. However, if they don’t have their school subjects work done they are in trouble. It is not about needing the paperwork to have a way to learn…it is about needing to pass the tests that are given. My children learn way more outside the classroom (oldest looked up heart surgery when my dad had it and didn’t have that in science until 2-3 years later)…but I still require that they pass their classes.

xxx

February 12th, 2014
3:25 pm

Snow days should not be called early enough for homework to be assigned in the first place, so this discussion is pointless.

@ Ann

February 12th, 2014
3:28 pm

If you had thought through and edited your initial post before you hit the submit comment button, then you would not be wasting time addressing every single poster you offended. That time could have been spent helping your kiddos with their homework you are so peeved over. Food for thought! ;)

Morgan

February 12th, 2014
3:31 pm

Throw your kids out the front door in full winter gear. Tell them not to come back inside until the sun goes down. Problem solved.

catlady

February 12th, 2014
3:43 pm

Great points, MJG! Lots of folks don’t think of that!

Many of our kids have little parental time. They may have “keepers” but they are not being parented. We are not allowed to penalize kids who don’t do any of the limited homework they are assigned (system wide, a TOTAL of 20 minutes per night, 5 nights a week, for all classes put together.) Of course, if a child does not do some practice or study, they are unlikely to do well. But, since they cannot be given zeroes….

I don’t ever give homework, but I did give extra Level A reading books (8-10 pages, very limited vocabulary, 20-40 words total) to my two recently-arrived ESOL students, in concern for the time we would be away. They both live with families with English-conversant kids who can read, so I have asked those students to listen to the new readers.

Many of our students really suffer from a lack of good parenting, responsible behavior, behavioral expectations, and work ethic. Unfortunately, even a month of snow days won’t make a dent in that!

Ann

February 12th, 2014
3:53 pm

@ @Ann – Well, some folks misread and it has nothing to do with how the original post was communicated. They read through quickly and don’t take time to re-read before posting. You, also have misread. We don’t have any homework assignments, so I am not peeved over them. The question was, should schools give out assignments? And, I shared the reasons why they are not needed.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
3:57 pm

@catlady – You are doing things the right way, giving specific assignments to specific kids based on their individual needs and circumstances. That is a good, thoughtful teacher. The one size fits all worksheet, such as math problems, that some kids may already know very well, but others don’t, is not the best use of time for all.

FCM

February 12th, 2014
4:14 pm

“How did we wind up with the notion that you can only learn from school assignments? These days provide opportunities for good, fun family bonding, too.” Actually it IS poorly communicated. The “too” you said I did not understand is used incorrectly…..the question before indicates that “too” is in also/in place of not also/in addition too.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
4:40 pm

@FCM – Thank you for the grammar lesson. Going back out to sled now.

FCM

February 12th, 2014
4:49 pm

Have fun on the sled, I hate snow and ice…I would gladly be on a beach in FL right now if I could.

Kat

February 12th, 2014
5:11 pm

My kids have been having a lot of fun – building the (required) living room fort, chasing the kittens, eating breakfast and lunch, watching videos, playing on tablets, and trying to compromise, sledding, etc. Two of them also have some homework to do, which we will work through today. We also have all those Valentines to get through.

I think if there is enough time to prepare a city for a winter storm, then teachers have time to decide what (if any) homework they will send home. They know what the kids need to know. And, if any of them have spent any of the last few winters in GA, then they know that our weather can be quite unexpected.

Jim C

February 12th, 2014
5:20 pm

We have only one child left at home but he has received “homework” assignments from me on every snow day. It’s a good chance for us to go over his books and projects.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
5:36 pm

I’m not riding the sled today, but I did a few runs 2 weeks ago. Just standing out there watching today and making sure a car is not coming down the road (and coming in for frequent breaks to warm up). Fortunately not many cars out, but an occasional one. My son is enjoying pushing the sled and hopping on, pretending he’s a bobsledder and skeleton rider, and sliding around the deck skating. It is nice to see some teenagers out sledding today. We didn’t see snow the past 2 winters here, so, you just don’t know when it will come around again. There will be more on the ground by tomorrow. So, if you like it, enjoy it.

In my view, if 5 or 6 snow days cause our kids to lose out in some competition for jobs with kids from China, Japan or India, then we have bigger problems with our school structure to sort out. Most heads of major corporations that I hear speak say that the most important future skills needed are going to be related to innovation, creativity and thinking outside the box. To innovate and think outside the box, kids and adults actually need quiet, unstructured time to let ideas percolate.

Morgan

February 12th, 2014
5:36 pm

I went to Fado for some fun and sustenance. Saw several parents’ bellied up to the bar while there children played happily with other children(quiet) in the background.

Ann

February 12th, 2014
7:10 pm

@ @Ann – I address other posters, sometimes, because I think that is one of the main purposes of a blog, to have an ongoing discussion of a topic. Effective communication involves back and forth questions and clarification, skills that I try to use and teach my child. Otherwise, the comments section is just everyone spouting their opinion without meaningful discussion. Effective communication includes stating your initial thoughts, someone actively listening, getting feedback, clarifying, considering the other person’s opinions, being non-judgmental, keeping emotions in check, modifying your position sometimes if you are open to others’ opinions, and so on.