Summer vacation blues for many students

About 62 percent of pupils attended cramming schools during the holiday and many of them are spending the final days of the vacation finishing their homework.

Now it’s payback time for thousands of city schoolchildren, who have been putting off doing their holiday homework.

The nearly 790,000 pupils who attend primary schools in Shanghai begin the new semester tomorrow — and many of them have been spending the final days of the vacation finishing their homework.

A recent survey of 6,376 local families conducted by PsyLife, a local educational consulting institution, showed that 21 percent of the students had procrastination problems and were rushing to complete homework as the summer holiday draws to a close.

Some parents said procrastination had proved a headache for their children throughout the vacation.

“Every year, I would urge him to finish the homework as soon as possible from the beginning of the vacation, but it has never worked,” Qin Yisha, the mother of 9-year-old boy, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

“Procrastination is the main problem. He always has other things to do, such as watching TV, playing games, or even sleeping.”

“And I have to say that the other problem is that some of the homework is boring, such as attending knowledge competitions on various websites,” she added. “I think he has to stay up late tonight.”

The survey also showed that only 26 percent of the students spent the vacation without undergoing any cramming classes or study-oriented travel programs. 

About 62 percent of the children have attended cramming schools — spending seven hours a week at them on average. And about 4 percent spent more than 16 hours a week at cramming schools. Foreign language, arts and math were the top three subjects.

Qin said her son had attended four cramming classes, to study English, Chinese, math and robot making. “I don’t want him to waste the whole vacation on television or games,” she said.

Travel with study purposes is also gaining popularity among pupils. Nearly 28 percent of them had such an experience this summer, while more than 11 percent went on study travels twice or more.

Most of the students traveled within China, while 3.7 percent went abroad. The average cost for domestic travel was 5,400 yuan (US$820), compared to 23,000 yuan for overseas travel.

Over 37 percent of the students attended travels in artistic or cultural themes, such as visiting libraries and galleries. 

The report added there was still a huge demand for programs aimed at improving skills in language, scientific innovation and other areas.

Joe Chiu, country manager of the Swedish-based EF Education First International Language Center China, said overseas courses for teenagers had seen double-digit growth in recent years in China. 

He added that the average age of Chinese students enrolling for overseas summer courses is increasingly lower than that of European and American students.

Yang Lifei, a local mother, said she sent her 9-year-old son to an EF summer program in the United Kingdom during the vacation and both she and her son were satisfied with the result.

“I decided to enroll him for the program to develop his independent living and study capability,” she said. “And I can also have a relaxed holiday when he is away.”

Priced at nearly 50,000 yuan, the program brought the boy and another 18 local children aged from 9 to 12 to a boarding school in the UK. They spent 21 days there doing all kinds of courses, along with children from other countries.

Though it was expensive and she was worried how her son would cope during his time away — his first time to travel without his parents — Yang said she would let him attend other study-oriented travels.

“He was happy every time when talking with me on the phone,” said Yang. “And when he came back, he told me he wanted to attend another program traveling to New York next year.”

There was a big bonus for mother and son this holiday. Procrastination, for so long the name of the game for her son, wasn’t a factor this holiday — he finished all his homework before going on his travels.

Ti Gong

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