Are the holiday books really useful?

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Every year it sells millions of copies, but do holiday books really keep their promises?

In front of Marc Levy and Guillaume Musso . According to the figures of the site specializing in publishing Edistat , holiday books trustent , as every year, the first place in the ranking of best-selling books for the week from July 2 to 8, before the heavyweights of the sector.

A tidal wave that does not date from yesterday. If the figures on the subject remain rare, the market research firm GFK explained that in 2014 , “nearly 4.2 million copies were sold, for a turnover of 25 million euros” . “If holiday books are interesting, it’s good for publishers!” summarizes Agnès Florin, professor emeritus of child psychology and education at the University of Nantes.

With sunscreen and mosquito repellent

Behind this financial windfall, professionals from the world of education and publishing are trying to concoct each year ever more attractive notebooks. Saturated colors, cartoon characters: everything is done to please children. And parents are not left out. Promising “reward stickers”, bringing together in a single notebook several subjects and corrected them are all tools to make playful and easy the moment of holiday homework .

The purchase of the manual is often a must before leaving, as well as sunscreen or mosquito repellent. “My 8-year-old daughter, Anaïs, still claims it,” says Mathilde, 37, “so I always take it to the supermarket, which gives me a good conscience.”

This wish, however, invariably turns into disappointed hopes. “Actually, it’s just a few pages,” Mathilde admits, “I do not have the heart to chase after her during our holidays.” After all, we all have the right to breathe. not the impression that it ever had any effect on his results the following year . “

Especially for good students

If he reassures parents, the educational value of this purchase is not really unanimous among professionals in the world of childhood. “There are very few studies on the impact of the exercise book,” says Agnès Florin, but one of them, published in 2005 , showed that it was mostly the good students who used them, not the ones who used them. who might really need it. “

Anaïs, Mathilde’s daughter, makes a personal use of her notebook. “I like to read and I’m stronger in French than in maths, so I do all the exercises of this subject, I read the texts, but I drop the maths exercises … It bothers me!”

In one of the articles from the 2005 study What do young people do during the summer holidays? Fabienne Rosenwald and Magda Tomasini, from the Statistical Studies Office, note that “young people who do holiday homework the least often are those whose parents think they have very difficult problems at school”. “Thus a pupil who redoubles his CP does holiday duties in 37% of cases while those who pass in CE1 are doing in 70% of cases,” said the two specialists.

A potential subject of tension

A lack of interest that can be explained in particular by a principle of reality: for students with major difficulties, these short exercises – even carried out with diligence – are not enough. First, because they do not come with the explanations of a teacher. Worse, they can even have a deleterious effect if the book of holidays becomes a subject of tension .

“When parents try to substitute for the teacher, it is rarely a success, says Agnès Florin.Because the shortcomings of their children stress, they may have a tendency, unintentionally, to devalue them, to discourage them rather than anything else. “

Quite counterproductive, the holiday book? Not necessarily, nuance Beatrice Copper-Royer, clinical psychologist specializing in childhood. “It can help consolidate gains, provided you do it right.” As the holidays are long, we prefer to start the notebook in the second part, from August, for example.Children have a more volatile memory than ours, so timing is important. “

Interesting educational alternatives

Anaïs was able to revise a little English by returning to vocabulary words, thanks to the lists of her workbook. But to be truly useful, a fun approach to learning is important. “We put a lot of pressure on the children,” says Beatrice Copper-Royer, “it seems important to me not to talk about school and schooling all summer, even when there are difficulties.”

Especially since the summer period is conducive to peaceful exchanges between parents and children. The opportunities to count, read or write, without the pressure of the classroom, are numerous. Anne-Lise, 39, takes the time to involve her three children of 10, 7 and 3 years in all activities that punctuate these two months. ” During the year, we have less time , we are more stressed, there we can really enjoy it, we read together a cake recipe, we measure proportions, small things like that.”