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 | By Dr. Cathleen McGreal

Does Summer Vacation Have to Be So Structured?


Q: It’s summer and my kids are out of school. I remember the lazy days of summer in my childhood, but these days, it seems as if everyone’s kids are at camps or summer enrichment opportunities. Should I be structuring my kids’ vacation more? How much is too much?

A: As summer vacation began, my friends and I would sing, “No more pencils, No more books!” But there were still books because the summer library reading program was popular.  Our parish Scout troop attended camp every summer, too. The rest of the time was spent devising our own activities, supervised by moms and grandmas. The changes that you mention reflect societal changes.

More parents are in the work force. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor released the Employment Characteristics of Families Summary. Three-quarters of moms with children ages 6 to 17 years were employed in 2014. That year, 93 percent of fathers with children under 18 were in the labor force. Grandmas often work outside the home, too. Many children attend summer programs because parents are working

Home all summer? Set up a flexible structure to avoid falling into passive forms of entertainment. Having regular waking and bedtimes promotes a healthy pattern. Summer programs can be enriching, but informal activities are valuable, too. Grade school children are eager to learn new skills, such as building a birdhouse. Chores are a part of life, too, even in the summer! Allow time in the day for your children to choose activities.

Read Annotation #2225 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and choose summer activities that foster a wholesome family life!