Sorry Teachers, My Kids Won’t Be Doing Any School Work This Summer

Image Source: Laura Falin
Image Source: Laura Falin

The last week of kindergarten, my son brought home a reading chart. He had to read ten books over the summer and fill out his chart, and when he returned in the fall he got a coupon for an ice cream cone. We had that sucker done by the first week of summer vacation because we’re over-­achieving rule ­followers and such.

The next year, they switched from keeping track of books to keeping track of hours. We recorded his reading hours all summer, filled out our chart once again, and he got another ice cream when school started.

And then he came home the third year with a file folder, filled with math and science websites to visit and study. A social studies challenge. A reading log. Hours of work.

I threw the paper in the trash and took the kids out for ice cream myself.

So yeah, kids lose some of what they learn over the summer. And I know we don’t want them forgetting everything they learned by the time they head back to school. But wouldn’t it be nice if they went to school in the fall actually excited to be there, at least for the first few weeks? Not already burnt out from a summer without a real break? And wouldn’t it be nice if we could spend the summer actually enjoying our kids (or hiding from them in the bathroom like normal people), instead of feeling guilty because we’re letting them play rather than making them study?

This year, we’re not doing our “suggested summer learning” in our house. Here’s what we’ll plan to do instead. (Side note: I say this all now. But a month into summer, I’m sure the wheels will fall off this bus and I’ll just be grateful for the days everyone bathes and eats a piece of fruit. We like to dream big.)

­We’ll try to have the TV off more than on.

We’ll maybe have some screen-­free days and others when screen­ time is limited. But we also won’t feel bad when we gather in the middle of a beautiful day when everyone could be outside, or reading a book, and play a video game instead.

­We’ll try go to the library once a week.

They’ll get two books they like (probably gross potty­ humor books. Sigh.), and we’ll get two books I want them to like (probably some of these or these). They won’t get more books until they at least give mine a chance. And we’ll try to read out loud at night before bed.

­We’ll take day trips.

And possibly road trips, too — to go hiking and and visit cool stuff around here.

We’ll read the informational signs and go to the visitor centers.

If we have any questions, we’ll see if we can figure out how to get answers ourselves. (Ask someone? Go to the library? Google it? All acceptable.)

­We’ll take or draw pictures of our adventures and email them to Grandma, and tell her about them.

Or maybe we’ll just start a blog and send her the link.

­We’ll try to cook and bake together, and practice things like fractions and reading recipes.

In part because it’s educational, but mostly because I like people making me chocolate chip cookies.

­We’ll plan on planting a garden.

Then we’ll learn about how to take care of our plants and when to harvest them and how to eat them.

­When we go camping, we’ll look at the stars.

Since I’ll have no idea how to find the Big Dipper, or the North Star, we’ll probably cheat and look at an app — but hey, it still counts in my book.

And then ­­ if they want to ­­ maybe we’ll play the online math games or use the science apps or try the social studies challenge. But I’m not keeping track, and I’m not recording how much time anyone spends on them. Because it’s my summer break, too, dammit.

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