The weekend reminded me that summer is coming. The lazy days of summer wherein our engines are recharged doing those things that inspire us and give us purpose. This may include traveling, hanging by the pool, hiking with the family, or even engaging in new hobbies. What it shouldn’t include is pressure from our schools to complete summer homework.
Summer homework is like requiring an adult taking a two week vacation to spend some time every day of that vacation reading and writing reports for a client who expects a full proposal or accounting the first morning they arrive back at work. Has this ever happened to an adult? Absolutely. Once in a blue moon. But it doesn’t happen at every vacation, and I can’t imagine an entire career rests on this first morning back. So why do we expect this of our kids?
Summer needs to be a time for our children to follow a passion, get an internship, create a business, play a sport, develop new skills, volunteer or pick up a book for pleasure and enjoyment. I know that’s what I do, and I know that’s what most teachers do.
But this doesn’t mean our minds are inactive.
Active minds are important in the summer to prevent the “summer slide,” but that activity doesn’t need to be studying environmental science, world history or even the “The Odyssey.” Activity comes in the form of creativity, engagement, creation and innovation. Activity comes from team building, group play and problem solving. Activity comes from participating in the local library’s summer reading program, setting goals and discovering new authors.
What activities hamper real growth and stall passion? Rote memorization and pages of outlines. The exact kinds of activities the summer homework requires. Rather than read chapters in a science book, our kids need to go out and plant a straw bale garden. Rather than complete history outlines, what if they instead traveled to an historic city or museum. Rather than read literature written in 700 B.C., how about they try to write their own short stories or rediscover a love of reading -- actually find a genre that gets them excited about reading again.
Summer should be a time to refuel for the upcoming race. Adults who work year-round jobs would kill for the concept of the old-fashioned summer. So why are we stripping our kids of those carefree days that build the foundation for nostalgia? Let’s allow our children the benefit of stepping out of the rat race for just a few months, in order for them to be able to tackle it head on with a full tank of gas come September. They’ll all be better for it.
And isn’t that the point?