Summer vacation here in Japan is about six weeks long and falls between the first and second school terms for most kids. That means that it is not between school years, like the long, languid summer vacations I knew as a kid growing up in the US.
Before summer vacation starts, each class at my son’s school has a meeting, the gist of which is:
Thou shalt not forget what thou hast learned first term.
Now as any good educator knows, you can’t just leave it to the kids or, heaven forbid, their parents. We are all full-to-the-brim of good intentions, but, well, sometimes Life (and okay, I’ll admit, TV) has a habit of getting in the way. No, schoolchildren in Japan are laden down with homework that must be completed during summer “vacation.”
This is especially problematic for me, not being a native Japanese speaker nor possessing an arsenal of perfectly-tapered-when-appropriate-and-blunt-when-called-for kanji calligraphy skills. My son and I struggle through his homework every year. My husband does it with him on weekends (sometimes) when he is here, but to get through the various booklets and worksheets and projects and -eek!- a book report, we have to plug through at least two pages a day. There are no days off at weekends or time off for good behavior. (more…)