Video: Summer homework gives kids the blues

NBC News with Brian Williams
By Kevin Tibbles Correspondent
NBC News
updated 7/26/2006 7:35:52 PM ET 2006-07-26T23:35:52

It used to be a kid's summer would all be spent outdoors, but times have changed!

"You can just hang out and have fun, but school pretty much wrecks it," says 11-year-old Levi Johnson.

Maybe not totally wrecked, but for Levi, a little busier. He has five book reports and 12 pages of math homework to do before he even starts sixth grade.

And for Levi's mom., the added chore of pushing him to hit the books.

"It's a stress, trying to get him to do the work when I really don't want him to have to do it," says Patricia Duffy.

Summer reading lists are nothing new, but book reports, math packets, science projects? All an extension, some say, of an already overscheduled school year.

"With summer homework, kids are still trapped in the student modality," says Etta Kralovec, co-author of the book "The End of Homework." "And they really don't have a chance to experience other forms of creativity."

But multiple studies have shown childrens' math and reading skills do deteriorate over summer vacation. So, some educators wonder, is it really asking too much for kids to take a break from the beach and pick up a book?

History teacher Michael Rosenzweig, who also enjoys his summer vacation, doesn't think so.

"A little bit of homework, a little bit of maintaining what you know, a little bit of enrichment, that, I think, fits in the balance of summer," he says.

Students read just one book before his class, but junior Sam Barnett, who in between practicing tennis and teaching karate, has to squeeze in history, English lit and calculus homework.

"I think that the classes that aren't giving any are giving the right amount," says Sam.

Too bad for him, this summer, his teachers don't agree.

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