A Case for Lazy Summer Days

The following is a guest post written by Jimmie of Jimmie’s Collage and The Notebooking Fairy.

Some moms can’t rest. They are always busy and feel uncomfortable, maybe even guilty, sitting still. If you are that kind of mom, you may see summer break as a chance to cram in the school work or extracurricular projects that you didn’t complete during the school year.

Reconsider your desire.

I want to make a case for “lazy summer days” with no academic tie ins. Take a lesson from the unschoolers or delight directed learners this summer and let your child choose his activities even if they appear “unprofitable.”

Hours of outdoor play, a week at camp, and time spent with grandparents or cousins go a long way to mature a child. Sometimes after a long break, a child is developmentally ready for something that was a struggle before.

Our brains are mysteries. Sometimes things just click, most often when we are not focused on the “thing.”

Think of your lost sunglasses. You rack your brain, trying to remember where you placed them. You ransack the house in search. Nothing. But when your mind moves to another task, you suddenly realize exactly where the sunglasses are sitting.

Photo by left hand

Academic concepts can be the same way. Your child is listening to the explanation but just not grasping it. But later, something clicks, and the concept is mastered. The brain often needs a time of academic inactivity in order for that click to occur.

I’m not espousing mind numbing play such as television, video games, and hours of YouTube videos. I’m talking about summer fun that is mind enriching– catching fireflies, stargazing, swimming, crafting, slumber parties, and making s’mores. With these activities, the mind is still very much engaged but with non-academic pursuits.

Educational researchers have discovered something called the spacing effect. Retention is actually increased when learning is interrupted with breaks. It might be counter-intuitive, but it is proven that students who continually studied a topic did not retain as much information as students who studied in shorter segments punctuated with regular breaks.

Surely your goal is for your child to retain what he learns. In that case, you need to take regular breaks from academics. Summer sounds like the perfect time to do that.

Why spend the summer agonizing over the multiplication facts that are still not mastered? Decide to take a four week break from multiplication and revisit it later. Just like those dirty dishes, the math facts will still be there. And very possibly, that mental click or maturation will occur to make learning all the easier.

Now enjoy your summer break, totally guilt free.

You are providing your child space to percolate on what you’ve taught all year. This break is also part of your homeschooling curriculum.

Do you wrestle with taking time “off” without feeling guilty?


  1. Thanks for this great reminder. I am definitely a mom who needs to enjoy summer along with her kids. We are having a fantastic summer of lots of varied activities: outreaches, day camp, family camp, resident camp and just relaxing, too.

  2. This is great! I often battle the desire of needing to “catch up” with our school subjects. So I really appreciate this reminder. Math will always be there once camp and fun with cousins are over!
    Faith | Minimalist at Home’s latest post: How to Soar Over Hurdles That Stand in Your Way

  3. I have witnessed the truth of this several times over the last few years, but it’s still good to be reminded. Thanks!

    • I’m glad that your experience verifies the value of breaks (and that you stated it here). Some people think that a “Tiger Mom” styled drill and kill will eventually work to force children to learn. A well-planned break is probably more effective.
      jimmie’s latest post: Biography Notebooking Pages

  4. I struggle with that guilt a lot…mainly b/c I rarely stick to my schedule and we are always behind due to me letting them pursue their own thing while I am pursuing mine. I like to call it WHITE SPACE that blank margin that allows for the words to stand out and mean something. I first heard of this term at Camp Creek Blog and I fell in love with it. So now whenever we are on a break I know that the kids are getting their space to grow and so am I!!!
    Amy @ simply necessary’s latest post: Fresh Perspectives

  5. I think this is so true… kids need to just veg in the great outdoors, their minds need to wander in order for their thoughts to gel together. Long lingering afternoons are fine during school time. But days and even weeks of doing nothing over the summer means that my kids get to follow their own passions and they learn vast amounts without any input from me. I take the summer off school too, I think it really is important for all of us to take a mental break and a shift from seat work.
    se7en’s latest post: Saturday Spot: The Natural Factual Garden Corner…

  6. Loved this post! You are so right, summer is the time to allow children to be children and experience the lost art of childhood 🙂
    RaisingZ’s latest post: "Here we Go, Go, Go, Go…On an Adventure…"

  7. I love this! I was struggling the first few weeks of summer because we weren’t doing any “school” stuff at all! But I eventually realized my kids (as well as myself) NEED the break. Now we will be recharged and excited come August. And, you are right, that they can mature so much just from things like playing in the pool with friends! Love live summer break!
    Paula @Motherhood Outloud’s latest post: An Uncomplicated Life: Cleaning

  8. This is exactly the reason that if something ever needs to change with our plans to homeschool, we’d like to find our daughter a year round school! Too long a break and things are forgotten, but too short a break (i.e. just the weekend) doesn’t really allow a child to explore all the other wonderful things the world has to offer.

  9. Valerie B. says:

    Boy, did I need to read this right now. I am so stressed over how “behind” my 10 yo dd is & I need to let go & take a break for both our sakes. Thank you!

  10. Having raised 4 children, homeschooling for 8 of those years, I definitely agree that having down time is so important. We did school more year round, but had definite breaks built in where they had plenty of space and time to play and create. So important for kids to have that and so many nowadays do not as they are being carted from one activitiy to the next.
    Thanks for the encouragement to enjoy the summers!
    Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: Wonder Woman doesn’t live here anymore

  11. I so completely agree! I have always told people that we totally break in the summer because my kids always seem way ahead when we start again in the fall. So interesting to see the educational researchers labeling this the spacing effect! Now I can sound professional when I advocate for no math during the summer. 😉

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