(from l to r, myself, me at 1 yr. with sister 3 yrs., my mother at 17 - only photos available).
Today, I’m taking a step back from my usual topic matter to address some lighter thoughts. Just a week or so ago, your children or grandchildren, stepped outside of those big ol’ school doors for the final time this season, to embrace a lengthy vacation known as the summer break or summer holidays. Parents usually plan well ahead for such occasions by making special care arrangements, if they are working parents, plan summer camp or day camp outings, arrange family vacations, make plans to attend special events and anything at all that will make these breaks especially memorable for the child and parents alike.
I recall my summer breaks in the elementary grades (K1-8). As one of five children with a working mother who was widowed, it was imperative that we did as many activities together as possible, not only because it was more affordable for our mother but as a commitment to keep an eye out for one another as a matter of love and safety. We did have a live-in couple who babysat us while our mother was working but for the most part, my older sister and I felt an obligation to watch out for the safety of the younger ones and to help out with their leisure activities. This meant swimming lessons, hiking, swimming in the summer and in the winter, skating, tobogganing and even building snowmen. We also enjoyed inventing games that we could play together as a family. One such game was called ‘car’. We would all sit under our big old maple tree in the front yard and appoint ourselves as the parents – one as the father driver and the other as the mother. The husband was usually the driver in those days and we took turns playing that role. The three smaller children sat behind us in the make believe back seat and behaved as children usually do, singing, playing, arguing, and yes, even exclaiming ‘are we there yet?’ You get the picture. We liked this game because we could change the script at will and I truly believe that my sister and I became more responsible along the way.
We did get to do our own thing as well and the babysitter took over on such occasions. My older sister had her own friends, and occasionally, they reluctantly agreed to let me tag along with them while they did their thing. I was too young to venture out alone but my most memorable times were with my big sister Sherrin and her friend Judy, riding horses, swimming, playing dress up in period costumes that were found in a secret room above the drive shed at Judy’s house that dated back to the early settlement days in that Region. I say that the room was secret because there was no door to access it from the hallway and it was not even discovered until a window was noticed from the outside , indicating that there was a room there. Eventually, access was discovered through a barn entrance, at which time, they also found a tunnel that led to the lake, being an escape route in the event of an attack during that early settlement period when the house was built. This was an historic house that held many secrets but our days were spent exploring and re-enacting imagined roles. I can’t think of a richer way to spend those leisurely days.
I have never yet met a child who did not look forward to the Summer break with great anticipation, even though they were all anxious to get back to school in the Fall to reminisce with their friends. And this leads me to question whether or not a two month break is a good thing or not. Is it too long and if so, does this interrupt the learning process? Our government of the day has been contemplating elimination of the summer break, substituting just a two week holiday instead of the usual two months. Yes, our kids would cram much more learning into each school year and the cost of childcare for working parents, may be reduced, but would we be robbing them of an important part of their childhood?
So here is my question. Should Summer break be eliminated from our children’s school year – YES or NO, and why do you feel that way.
I welcome your comments!
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