Thursday, June 16, 2022

What Teachers Do With Their Own Kids During Summer Break

What Teachers Do With Their Own Kids During Summer Break | Apples to Applique
Picture from Pixabay

I feel like there is so much parenting guilt that floats around social media all the time, but especially during holidays and breaks. Some of the posts encourage parents to create magical experiences and take elaborate vacations, make cute Pinterest-worthy meals, like sandwiches and fruit in fun animal shapes, and enroll your children in every available activity, from swimming lessons to day camps. Then there are the posts promoting diligence concerning academics, urging parents to beware of the "summer slide" by making sure their children are performing educational activities every day. It can be a lot, especially for parents who work during the summer.

Have you ever wondered what teachers do with their own kids during summer break? These professionals who are trained in child development and education and want kids to avoid learning loss over the summer, what do they do with their kids on a daily basis? I'm here to let you in on the secret: We let them be kids.

That's right. We let them play, sleep in, build forts, and entertain themselves. Yes, we do some extra curricular things, like camps and trips to the splash pad, but we do not structure every minute of their days. During the school year, teachers and students follow such tight schedules that we can all use a more relaxed approach during summer break. We have movie days, we have days where we stay in our pajamas, days where we don't do anything productive. That's not to say everything is a free-for-all; my kids have their daily responsibilities and limits on screen time, we still observe regular meal times and bed times, but that's the extent of the structure.

Regarding the dreaded "summer slide", here is what I do with my kids: Every day, we have reading time. The kids select books and read for 20-30 minutes--longer if they choose, which they sometimes do, but that's the minimum. Easy, right? But that's truly all it takes. Daily reading is consistently found to be the most important activity to prevent losing academic ground. Beyond that, I encourage my kids to play. I don't entertain them, but help them learn to occupy themselves, to play outside and explore, to engage in dramatic play, art, games, etc. I recognize the importance of those activities and how all of these types of play are educational. Play is one of the highest forms of learning, and is, in the words of Jean Piaget, "the work of childhood".