Why Give Kids a Vacation Anyway?

Here’s a great question: Why should parents give kids a break from school/chores when Mom and Dad continue to work 24/7/365?

First of all, because they are kids. They are not yet mature enough or strong enough to be working like adults. So, we consider their frame, and we don’t bury them in year-round studies. Solomon knew this when he pointed out that “much study is wearisome to the flesh” and I assume his comment was not limited to adults.

Wise Solomon said a few other things as well: “Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself?” Earnest Christians can overdo things in their desire to be “godly,” and this can include loading up the kids with way too many “righteous” things to do. Easy does it.

We want to be reformational in our thinking and living. We believe our theology should affect all of our living, so that means we ought to live like we believe it. Reformed types tend to over-emphasize stuffy theology and try to take shelter from living by hiding behind stacks of big fat books. Live a little. Maybe you need to take a break from your frenetic pace and take a pottery or painting class yourself. Or maybe ballroom dancing or fencing. Giving your children the opportunity to experience many things, from camping and fishing to astronomy and physics, is giving them a big view of God. Look at all the cool stuff God lets us do.

We want to become more human, which means bearing His image more faithfully and fully. He is not a fusser, watching the clock and checking things off His to-do list. We need to imitate Him, His extravagance and liberality toward His children. Did you catch that glorious sunset He set out in the sky tonight? Or were you too busy fussing over something “righteous” and forgot to look up? Come on! Don’t tell me He wasted all that color and light and you didn’t even notice? He seems to delight in distracting us away from our many mundane duties to look and wonder. So we ought to distract our own children away from their studies and chores.

Kids ought to play in the dirt and build forts and climb trees and throw snowballs and make you laugh. The great architects and musicians and artists of the next generation need to discover their gifts and develop their talents while playing dress-ups or messing around with clay. They won’t ever know what they can do unless you give them the opportunity to try.

That’s why I think kids need a summer break.

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14 thoughts on “Why Give Kids a Vacation Anyway?

  1. This is what I wanted to hear! Thank you, you precious woman you. Thank you for bringing out God’s Word like that and balancing things out.

    Here are some hugs and kisses to show my joy and appreciation:

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo and more

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

    :-) huge smile!

  2. We finished a year of homeschooling today!
    I told my guys that they are not allowed to enter the “school room” until August 1.
    Such a cheer went up….
    I know your ideas here are really true.

  3. Whilst agreeing with this from the heart, my head says keep them ticking over with some school work over the summer (especially as they are behind in some of their work – because of my laziness in earlier homeschooling years). It’s hard to decide, especially as I know once the cold, dark days set in again our motivation to work wanes considerably.

  4. verynicelily, We are planning to homeschool our children to avoid some of the summer brain rot, actually. We don’t know how long we will last as homeschoolers! But, our plan is to school the children in accordance with the church calendar rather than the traditional school schedule. So, for example, we will take from Thanksgiving to Epiphany off. Then we will take a month off for Holy Week/Easter. Then August (our hottest, nastiest month) will be our traveling somewhere cooler month. And our hope is that this will leave room for pursuing leisure and wonder throughout the seasons – both the Church seasons and the natural ones.

    Great post, Mrs. Wilson. Thanks!

  5. My little one has had a break from (pre)school for the whole spring as we’ve worked on building a barn, fence, and putting in a garden. Now he’s BEGGING to do school again! :) I think I like the idea to do school when it’s too hot out to want to be outdoors and to take the nicer months in spring and autumn off…

  6. This post is a great answer to Luma’s concern. As you say, kids aren’t adults shouldn’t be treated as though they are. I think there’s a leveling tendency in American culture (democracy gone wild?) that encourages kids to dress and act like adults (which is not always healthy) and adults to dress and act like kids (which is not always healthy).

    Of course, that also means we don’t necessarily treat all our kids the same. The 8 yr. old brother may get to spend a good deal of his summer chasing bugs outside and building prisons out of Legos (that seems to be the most popular construction project around here. Not sure what that means!)

    His 16 yr.old brother’s summer, on the other hand, may look a little different. He gets a break from Geometry and research projects, but may have other responsibilities and jobs his younger siblings don’t have. You’re doing your 16 yr. old son a disservice by allowing his summer to be just as it was when he was 8 years old.

    As I like to tell my kids (when one expects something because the other got it); I try to treat you all with fairness, but that doesn’t mean I treat you all equally!

  7. Mrs Wilson,

    Regarding the school question I had yesterday…

    Thanks for the tip on checking out Logos. We had already looked there, but hadn’t find anything in regard to first grade – in the curriculum ‘store’. I did, however, just find a pdf of the materials used in the school itself (K – 6) and have printed it off for my husband to look into. Thanks for sending me back there!

    And regarding the issue of giving children a break…do you or your readers have any tips on how I can organize our school year so we can spread the work out over the whole year and still have a lot of free time too? I do a lot of sewing (mostly for fun and for our infant daughter), we have four children ages 6 and under, and I do all our baking from scratch, including bread.

    We really want homeschooling to work well for all of us – the children in school, the younger two and myself as well – and for it to be fun — we want the school work to get done, but I also need a lot of time to do household things too. I know that a lot of what we do will depend on how it works for us and to start with it will be trial and error until we get a system worked out, but I’d really appreciate any ideas you (or anyone who has ‘been there and done that’) might have!

    My husband is going to be getting some books regarding classical home education, but personal testimony from people who have experience is a lot of help too. And it’s encouraging to hear that it can be done!

    Thanks for your help!
    Have a lovely day!

  8. After hitting the ‘submit’ button it occurred to me that it’s possible to read the above comment as my needing time mainly for my own pleasure. Well, I always feel that I ought to have more time to do the ‘fun’ things :-) but I actually try to only do those things when I have time. I do make most of our daughters clothes though so that part is a necessity.
    Just thought I’d clarify that little point! I know I’m a terribly selfish person (the arrival of our first child taught me that!) but no, I don’t need extra time just so I can sew for my own pleasure! The extra time is more so we can do all the things that we need to do around the house as well as all the schooling that needs to be done and still stay sane!

  9. Joanne,
    If your kids are still small enough not to be working at jobs in the summer, you might try this schedule:

    in school Jan, Feb, Mar
    off in Apr
    in school May, Jun, July
    off in Aug
    in school Sept, Oct, Nov
    off in Dec

    It has the advantage of giving you free time to prepare for a big Christmas, and time off when most people take vacations in the summer. Also, if you garden, it’s nice to take Apr. off!
    But I’ve found it hard to actually do this because we take a lot of group classes that follow the schools’ schedule. Works best if your kids are smaller.

  10. Joanne,

    We’ve been home schooling 15 years and have 6 children. Our oldest is 19 and at NSA, and my youngest begins kindergarten this year. Sometimes I feel a bit overwhelmed when I realize that I have 13 more years to go. :)

    We have a huge garden, but I gave up sewing long ago. I made a couple of costumes in emergency situations, but those were some very late nights. I sewed just enough for a year or so when my daughter was 10 years old, so that she could take the ball and run with it. She enjoys sewing and makes pretty things when she has time.

    The schedule that someone above suggested works very well when your family is still young. April and August are the most intense gardening months (in our part of the country) – preparing and then harvesting/canning. Your children are young enough to not have a social life and don’t know when the traditional schools are on vacation. Ironically, you probably have more time now while your children are young to pursue domestic arts/skills if they are on a good schedule. Now that some of my children are teens, our schedule is dictated more by outside forces – cover school schedules, tutors/outside classes, sports, etc…

    I used to be idealistic thinking I could do it all. I wanted to live like _Little House on the Prairie_ AND do everything in the Well-Trained Mind. It was very frustrating trying to accomplish all my goals. Pray and talk seriously with your husband about what is most important at each stage of life and establish family priorities together. It’s so easy to start living life on a tread mill checking off to-dos that it becomes very stressful for you and for your children. You may find it necessary at some times in life to make very simple meals, or give up bread baking, sewing, or gardening, stop teaching Latin for a few years, or sit out a year of outside activities. 😉 Sometimes we have to cut loose some of our ideals for the peace of our families and so that we have time to enjoy our blessings. You really don’t have to do it all. It’s such a joy to look back in hindsight and see how the Lord filled in our gaps.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Sandy

  11. I have very fond memories of my mom’s efforts to keep us kids happy and profitably busy during the summer. She and my dad both worked full time, so making sure we didn’t just waste away the hours watching reruns of “Different Strokes” was a bit difficult (and we certainly did watch too much tv). But my mom was good at giving us some relaxed order.

    I remember her putting together workbooks for each of us, basically of pages with projects designed to drill academic skills we had already learned or to teach us new ones we might learn the following year. Some of the projects were simply fill-in-the-blank types, and some were scavenger hunts or crafts. Word games were my favorite, so I got a lot of those.

    My mom also signed each of us up for classes through parks and rec at one of the neighborhood schools, since we could walk or ride our bikes there. My sister and I always took home economics kinds of classes, and I will always remember with delight learning how to make flour tortillas.

    One summer I also remember participating in a program through our newspaper called “Kids Cook”, in which the newspaper would publish recipes for a complete meal that children could cook. My parents would cut out the recipes and my mom would make the grocery list. Then my sister and I did the shopping and prepared the meal on Sunday evenings. My mom was so excited about us doing this that she even contacted the newspaper, and two weeks later our picture was on the front of the Kids Cook section!

    We did lots of swimming and reading as well. My parents had very little money, but trips to the public pool were cheap and the library was free. Even from her cubicle my mom managed (most of the time) to manage summer pretty well. I’m not so good at it myself (yet), but happy memories sure are a good motivator!

  12. I really appreciate Sandy’s comment about letting go of some ideals. As women (especially Christian women), it is so easy to think we must do it all, and do it all well. We all have “super-women” in our lives (churches, etc.) that seem to set the bar so high, and make it look so easy. How comforting to remember that God really doesn’t care if we sew, can, or make anything homemade. I don’t think he’s concerned about those things at all. We’ve each been given individual giftings, as well as limitations. Without realizing this, life can be so overwhelming. How freeing it was when I realized that I am loved and adored by my Heavenly Father–not because of how efficiently I run our household–but because I am His child!

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