I am often asked this time of year, “What is the best balance of work and play during a student’s summer months.” On the one hand, some argue that nine months of hard work should be rewarded with three months off. On the other hand, there are those that bemoan the 10-20% (depending on whose study you believe) loss of content that students suffer when school resumes in September. While I loved my own summer vacations as a child, I also recognize as an adult that the summer construct in American education was born of the necessity to let our primarily agrarian society work the fields… over 100 years ago. While 85% of our society was once involved in agriculture, today that number is closer to 3%. Year-round schooling is one solution many have proposed.
I still want summer vacation for my two little girls. I want them to learn to ride their bikes, swim as often as they can and play “dollies” for as long as possible. In the face of these lofty summer goals we do, however, also work hard to set aside a small period of time every day to help them both continue to develop their reading and writing skills as well as their math facts. I think the key is to recognize that the summer doesn’t have to mean a change in what your family values. If you are debating the need for more work during the summer, it is possible you may want to look at work patterns the other nine months of the year. And this of course raises a very different question… how do we divide responsibility for our children’s education between school and home?