Summer vacation homework at Japanese school

Japanese modern lifestyle

In Japan, the new school year starts in April, and we have a summer vacation from late July to the end of August. Many Japanese schools start their second semester on September 1st.

So Japanese kids should be enjoying the remaining one week of summer vacation at the moment. Should be…..

The fact is, now is the time that Japanese kids are desperate for their summer vacation homework! Among Japanese moms, their current main topic is “Has your kid finished the summer vacation homework already!?”.

What’s going on?? Today, I would like to talk about the homework situation of Japanese school students.

Japanese summer vacation homework

A lot of amount of homework

Most elementary to high schools in Japan give homework during the summer vacation.

Every year, many children have a hard time finishing their homework and are busy with their homework until the last day of summer vacation.

Why is this happening? The cause is the huge amount. Here is an example for Japanese summer vacation homework.

Elementary school lower grades
  • Kanji workbook: 10-20 pages
  • Calculation workbook: 10-20 pages
  • Picture diary
  • Calligraphy

Elementary school upper grades

The following will be ADDED.

  • 4 subjects (Kokugo, Math, Science, Society) workbook: 10-20 pages
  • Book report
  • Science project
  • Home economics work (sewing etc.)
Junior high / High school
  • 5 subjects (Kokugo, Math, Science, Society, English) workbook: 20 – 100 pages
  • Book report
  • Science project
  • Home economics work (cooking report etc.)

In addition, depending on the school, there is other homework like making posters such as environmental problem warning bells, traffic safety alerts, newspaper article reports, and review of final exams etc. Don’t you think it’s a little too much?

Too much pressure

Children’s pressure is considerable because they have to do such a huge amount of homework.

I have junior high school grade3 and a high school grade1 nieces. They came to our house during this summer vacation and asked us to teach them their homework. Both of them had a lot of text books in their bags.

What surprised me was not only the quantity but also the content. It seems that there are many questions that they are not taught yet at school and even my husband who is good at mathematics cannot solve.

The two nieces said, “I have only 10 days left for the homework.”, or “I can’t finish my homework, what should I do?”

Parents who manage the progress of their child’s homework are also stressful. In addition, as part of the recent improvement in the working environment for teachers, some schools require parents to score homework. The days when parents and children are busy with their homework continue until the last minute…

Comparison to oversea

When and Why it started in Japan

Summer vacation homework tortures Japanese children so much. So when and why did it start? Its history dates back to the Meiji era.

When summer vacation was introduced in 1881, it is said that teachers set out tasks for the purpose of keeping the learning rhythm.

With the spread of paper and pencils in the 1900s, homework with workbooks or texts similar to today began. It is said that parents also asked for homework to establish the learning content of their children and permeated it to be able to join a good university.

Standard in overseas

Of course, studying is important and we can understand the need for homework. How about overseas?

Homework is rarely given during long vacations in the United States and Europe etc. Even children need vacations, so it is good to do what you like during the holidays and gain experience that can only be done at that time. That’s the philosophy for the vacation!

On the other hand, in Japan, we are always busy with tasks even during the holidays. Therefore, the Japanese-specific concepts such as “Don’t be happy to let go even on a holiday”, “If you take a rest, it will be a big trouble later”, or “It is a sin to take a rest” will be acquired.

Some people say that the huge amount of homework make Japanese who are not good at resting. This situation is rare in the world.

Unpopular homework

Finally, I would like to introduce some homework that is unpopular among parents and children.

Book report

Speaking of unpopular No.1, it’s “Book report”!

Book report is a standard homework in Japan. It’s an essays that you choose one book from the five books specified by the school and write your impressions. The reason why it’s not popular is..

  • You cannot freely choose books other than the designated ones
  • The number of characters is decided very finely. Not enough, not more with the designated sheets. Even one word is less, then you must add a word.

It seems that many children feel that they are made to “write” because of their low degree of freedom.

Looking back on my own childhood, I was not good at book report. It takes time to read and write. I didn’t usually write essays at school, so I wasn’t used to it, and I remember writing similar phrases repeatedly to fill five sheets.

Picture diary

A picture diary is also unpopular. Just because it’s summer vacation doesn’t mean that something special happens every day. Kids say that it is difficult to find material in their diary.

Also, some children are not good at drawing, so it seems that they find it painful to draw in addition to sentences.

When I was a kid one summer, I completely forgot about my picture diary homework. I needed to write diaries for five days but I couldn’t remember what had I done during summer vacation! I had a hard time.

It becomes painful when everything is compelled

Even the book report and picture diary I mentioned can be a very good opportunity to improve your logical thinking and color sense. Academic study such as workbooks is also important.

However, when it is given as “homework” and “too much”, it becomes painful due to the pressure to do it.

Japan’s summer vacation homework is more than ever in the world. I hope all the children will be satisfied with the remaining days.


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