The case for the summer slide

JULY 4, 2016 By Jeff Bogle

My two pre-teen daughters have just put a bow on ten months of early morning instrument rehearsals, after school honor society meetings, cumbersome class projects and nightly homework assignments.

It’s been a good year, one that bore witness to tremendous growth inside and out of school, but it’s been a long year. We all need a break.

Yet, if I were to listen to educational “experts” and overly-ambitious parenting bloggers, I might think that I should be prepping an 8-week summer lesson plan to help my daughters avoid the proverbial summer slide backwards. Instead of kicking back in the yard, turning on the sprinkler, firing up the grill and cranking up some of their favorite music these experts say my kids “need” to keep up in their knowledge of math equation rules, scientific facts and grammar usage.

I’m saying bullocks to all that.

My kids will be the first two down the ‘dreaded’ summer slide, right after I pour water on it and position a kiddie pool with bubbles and bath toys at the bottom of it. It’s summer, so let’s get back to understanding what that used to mean: No. More. School.

Because childhood isn’t a competition and because I’m raising kids, not future middle managers striving for a 2.5% cost of living pay raise at the end of each fiscal year, I’m placing more value in the opportunity summer presents to decompress.

Summer is a time to take a break from the learning, studying, test taking and extra curricular commitments of childhood. I am rejecting the thoroughly modern and uniquely American desire to continually inundate our young people with skill building activities as if we’re in an arm’s race to produce humanoid widgets.

We as a society have gotten to this place where the short gap between grades is yet another scholastic measuring stick so that our kids might someday get into a good college, get a good job, buy a big house, and check all the boxes of what ‘success’ is in the 21st century. The space for fun, self-expression, boredom, reflection and outdoor free play has been squeezed to accommodate all of that and our kids are suffering with anxiety issues and exhaustion. We parents aren’t faring much better.

This summer, let’s get back to basics. Open up the back door or find a local park, leave the #2 pencils and study packets on the kitchen table, and let your kids slide into a summer worth remembering.

 

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