High River United Church of High River, Alberta


Summer Time is Fun Time

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It’s almost summer time. I remember the fun of anticipating summer as a child. What, of all the possibilities, would I choose to do with my days? I was a farm kid so between laying hens in the barn year-round and roasting/frying hens to be raised, butchered and sold over the summer, and garden & crops to be planted and harvested, we rarely took summer vacations. I remember only one in my whole childhood.


But that was just life on the farm and I knew that there was a great deal of fun to be had right there where I lived. I could sit on top of my playhouse or perch in the tree and read my book for hours. I could explore through the caragana hedges with my Samoyed dog, Queenie. I could bake cookies with grandma, and, when I had to, help my mom pull weeds in the garden. I could wander ½ a mile down the road to the creek and meet friends who lived ½ a mile the other way and we would picnic, catch tadpoles and watch for otters and ducks. And on rainy days, I’d cuddle in my bed for an extra-long time enjoying the sound of rain on our metal roof. Then there were crafts to make and clothes to sew for my Barbie doll. While I absolutely loved school and all of the studies that were part of the fall-winter-spring routine, I also absolutely loved my childhood summers where the time was mine and I could decide on each day’s adventures.


I find it curious therefore to hear statements about children falling behind and losing knowledge over the summer because they aren’t in school every day. To me this is mostly a marketing ploy to sell workbooks and other materials by creating fear in parents.   A wise friend once said to me, “The summer is for learning other things. It is amazing how much kids grow up in the summer when they are given their own space.”   It is so true. While the kids might not be doing math, science, social and language arts over the summer, and they might have to review times tables, etc. again in the fall, that doesn’t mean that they are falling behind. Some kids might enjoy doing those workbooks (I would have been one of them), but the ones that enjoy doing them are probably the ones who don’t need to do them. And the ones who might (and I say “might”) benefit from the review are the ones that have much more need of play and time to themselves – time just to be! If they have spent the whole school year struggling and feeling as if they can never quite make the marks expected, they need the summer just to be themselves, to do what they enjoy, to feel successful at what they do, to refresh and to rejuvenate their spirits.


Summer is a time when children learn what no one can teach them. During the summer, this is what I believe children should have the opportunity to learn:


-      how to make their own choices about what to do and how to use their time, within safe, but not too restrictive, boundaries.


-      what to do when they feel bored (Don’t jump in & fill their time; they’ll figure it out.)


-      how to explore with their bodies and minds places of their own choosing, rather than those set out by curriculum or adults


-      how to have time with friends and siblings just to play and explore, stretching their imaginations.


-      being creative with whatever is at hand


-      how to make their own breakfast or snack or lunch, how to cook and help with meals and chores around the house and out in the yard


-      how to have down time, rest time, no-schedule time, time just to be


-      and bit by bit as they get older, how to make decisions and deal with situations without adults always supervising


They need unstructured time to connect with their own spirits and with their families and friends….time just to be!


Summer is a great time for children and for families. We all need to have a change of pace in life and summer is children’s change of pace. A motor running full tilt all the time wears out. It is the same with human beings. If we are going at full speed all the time, we wear out, get sick and succumb to the effects of sustained stress. Adults and children alike need both times of work and times of play, times of full-out activity and times of doing mostly nothing.   We need those cycles of work and play throughout the year. For children, summer is a key time when they can play, explore and refresh their spirits, unencumbered by a huge set of adult expectations. They really need this time. Why not enjoy it with them and get the rest and play you need in your adult life as well?

 ©Susan Lukey 2012, revised 2019

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