The phrase “Summer Loving” makes me think of the kind of bouncy, beachy scene out of a soft-drink commercial where gorgeous people are playing volleyball, water-skiing, and having short but passionate romances scented with sunscreen and bonfire smoke. Those were the kinds of summers I never had myself, though I loved summer for a different reason.
Summer was for sleeping late, reading, writing, for playing outside. I cringe when I hear people promote year-round school. Supposedly many students backslide academically during the summer, but I would submit that there’s more to learning than what happens in a classroom, and chaining students to desks year-round is not the only path to education.
I always read far more outside the classroom than in it, and I got more exercise in the summer. Summers gave me a break from the bullying of my middle-school years. I can’t even imagine having to stay in that situation year-round, of having no escape from it.
But most of all, summer taught me how to use my own time, how to plan my days, how to combat boredom. When I left home in my late teens, when I went off to college, my sudden new freedom didn’t send me off the rails. I knew how to plan my time, how to manage responsibilities.
My family couldn’t afford lots of big fancy vacations, but we did take a couple of memorable trips (to Boston and to Washington, DC), and summer enabled me to spend more time with my grandparents, and there was also one creative-writing camp experience that changed my life. We never had time for such things during the school year.
If you forget the Pythagorean theorem or the definition of iambic pentameter over the summer, you can learn it again. But if you’re shut inside a schoolroom for four seasons a year, you miss the chance to practice the independence you’ll need later. Apart from that, there’s also value in time for rest, for daydreaming. It’s important not to schedule every minute of kids’ lives for them.