Throughout most of history, summer was a time of increased activity, activity that was necessary for a family to have food and fuel for the winter. Longer days meant harder work. All the children had to lend a hand. It was so much work, that school in the cooler months was the vacation.
The Bible doesn’t specifically address summer vacations, but we do read many verses such as Proverbs 12:11 and 10:5:
He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread,
But he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding.
He who gathers in summer is a wise son;
He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.
Hard work pays off. Frivolity (lack of seriousness) and laziness leads to an empty stomach and an empty mind.
Committed homeschool parents tell their children, “We’re homeschoolers…we’re always learning.” The mindset carries through all seasons of the year. And we all know that some things are better taught in summer.
Families with children at a school often fall into a mentality that summer means a suspension of learning. Or worse, that summer means a suspension of responsibility. I think it’s harmful to a child’s character and intellectual development to train him to think that every year he deserves 2½ months free of work, or that the relaxed time of summer is the norm, and school is an unpleasant deviation.
I am no advocate for schools that are in session for 12 months. The teachers and I would be the first to protest! Come June, there has to be a change in routines and activities. Yet this does not mean that children should cease reading, doing housework, practicing multiplication, getting up on time, exercising good manners, going to church, or studying the Bible with you.
I have seen over the years that the parents who indulge their children in a summer binge of non-stop play, without any reading or home-based helping, experience an autumn of struggles and poor grades. This can even carry over through the year, and parents and children are so exhausted by the end of it they all take another long break from learning. And the cycle repeats.
I strongly recommend to parents to keep your children’s intellects and bodies active this summer. We have summer packets that teachers prepare. For some students who are on pace and need no particular catching-up, the packets might simply suggest a course of reading, with occasional writing thrown in. For other students who hit rough patches during the year, the summer will need to see deficits addressed and conquered. Your children’s teachers will tell you more.
In all cases, fathers should have conversations like the following with their children at the close of the school year: “Children, hurrah! You’ve done well this year. We are going to have some fun this summer and relax. But there’s some work to do also! That garage is going to be your project, son, and daughter, you’ve been wanting to learn how to bake pies. Well, this summer you’ll be learning all about ingredients, costs, and experimenting in the kitchen. You’ll both be doing yard work and housework. And there will be books and math practice, to keep your minds sharp. But there will be a lot of ice cream, and lots of pie.”
Parents, train your children! Your sub-contractors-in-training are off for the summer. You’re the parents, teachers, and trainers for the most flexible and pleasant days of the year! Most importantly, ENJOY your time together! May you have a memorable summer!
-Brian Turner, Headmaster