The fun dilemmas during the summer are between the pool or the movies, dinner on the grill or somewhere out in the shade, ice cream cones or popsicles…. A question I am asked frequently as a teacher is whether kids should be given a break from school-related tasks during the summer or whether we should use that free time to boost our children’s education by practicing skills, such as math facts, reading, etc. Just as most other important areas in life, it’s not all or nothing but somewhere in the middle: splitting summer time in a way that meets the needs of the child and the family as a whole is likely the “sweet spot.”
I prefer to have some vacation days from school free from routine: sleeping late, no schedule, family time to relax. Keeping in mind, those days are more enjoyable and cherished if they are not the usual; therefore, most summer days in our family are still routinized. We start with exercise, sometimes at a camp, but at least an hour of organized athletics. Every day also includes chores, the ones that are expected around the house followed by some instituted to avoid boredom and boost our brains. I encourage choice when it comes to these chores. Choose the book you want to read, the song you want to practice, or a project you’re interested in. Maybe “responsibility” is a better term than “chore” because these tasks should be the kids’ responsibility to start and work on for their own good—something that makes them feel accomplished. Hopefully, they’ve learned something too! Even if they’ve only learned that they like putting together puzzles a lot more than growing a garden, we’ve learned something new about our preferences and our nature.
The unfortunate truth is summer comes to an end. That break from school feels a lot more satisfying if we can say we accomplished something. Having checked off some chores, responsibilities or achievements during summer will likely motivate us to be ready for the ones during the school year.