Enhanced – read by the author
The Family Man title
with Todd Wilson
It’s Time to Take a Break
Father playing with child
Oh, June, July, and August, how do I love thee?

Done with homeschooling and free as the sea,

But guilt comes like clouds in the sky

Ruining the summer and making us cry.

Okay, not a very good poem, but you get the idea. I love summer. As a product of the public school system, I was conditioned to take off the summer months. We spent our days playing, swimming, working, and running lemonade stands. Then, when it was time to go back to school, we were ready. Kind of.

That’s how the world was set up. Opie got summers off on the Andy Griffith show. Greg and Marcia went camping with the family during the summer. Even Phineas and Ferb made an entire four-season cartoon about the magic of summer.

I think the desire for a summer break is in our DNA. We long for summer vacation like my dog yearns to have the place behind his ears scratched.

Ever since we started homeschooling, we’ve taken a summer break too. We don’t pretend to follow the public school schedule, but we do take off the summer to relax, recover, and PLAY!

Shortly after we started homeschooling, I met homeschoolers who do school during the summer. (I’m not talking about year-rounders who do school throughout the year, taking breaks every six to eight weeks.*)

“You need the break as much as your kids do. You need to enjoy your kids as kids, not students, and your kids need to enjoy you as just mom, not teacher.”
At first, I just figured they were intense moms who didn’t know when to stop. I’d spot them on vacation like a bird-watcher spots a Blue Banded Loon. I’d bump into a homeschooler at a pool or even at Disney World, and my kids would report, “Can you believe they had to do an hour of math before they came to the pool?”

My kids were outraged that anyone could be so cruel… and in fact, I kind of felt the same. If I saw them, I’d joke and say something like, “This is vacation, and you made your kids do school? You’re desecrating the good name of vacation.”

Then I started seeing a pattern on our Smiling Homeschooler Facebook page. In case you haven’t visited our page, it’s kind of like an island of smiles and encouragement in a sea of “this is what you should do” pages.

If I posted something about summer or summer vacation, the comments would pour in like a wave of ahhs. “I can’t wait… only three more weeks until we’re done… I finished last week… we stopped the first of May.”

You could feel the excitement building and then… THEN… some random mom said something like, “Oh, we’re so far behind; we’ll be doing math and science all summer.” Another well-meaning mom chimed in and said, “I love summer, but I have the kids do a light load just so they stay fresh.”

Still another added, “We take summer off, but I have the kids keep a nature journal, write a poem each day, read forty-seven books, create a musical, serve the poor, start a business…”

That’s when others stopped posting about taking the summer off just to play because fear and guilt seeped into the post, and moms started to wonder if they were the wrong ones for looking forward to taking the summer off. Maybe they should do something? Maybe they should be more structured? Challenge the kids to gain a new skill? Make sure they aren’t forgetting everything?

Maybe a little math each day wouldn’t hurt.

Mom, that’s what guilt does; it makes us crazy and causes us to doubt our summer vacation DNA. And it steams me.

Just today a mom wrote and asked, “My kids are behind, so we’ll need to do school during the summer. What do you recommend to make it more fun?” The question wasn’t written to me… but I’m going to answer, “DON’T DO SCHOOL.” Just let your young daughters—and they are young—play and have fun. I guarantee they will learn. Then, when you start back up in the fall, they‘ll be ready. The first several lessons will mostly be review anyway.

Moms, you can argue all you want, and you might have good reasons for doing some school over the summer… but don’t! You need the break as much as your kids do. You need to enjoy your kids as kids, not students, and your kids need to enjoy you as just mom, not teacher.

Ignore and fight the guilt. Start a No-School-This-Summer group where you challenge each other and hold each other to the promise of not doing school during June, July, or August.

Hey Dad, I need your attention for a minute. Your wife needs you on this one. Don’t let guilt and fear drive her into ruining the summer by doing school. You don’t have to put your foot down, but be firm and help her make the right choice… the one in her DNA… the one that she needs you to support her in. Just say, “Honey, you need a break. The kids need a break. They’ll be just fine.”

Don’t make me have to attempt to write another poem. Have a great school-free summer!
Summer makes everyone smile,
Todd Wilson Signature
* Year-rounders, can we talk?
I know you’ve thought it through. I’ve met some of you who talk about doing school year-round, but you never take real breaks. Go ahead and do school year-round if you want to or when it works best for your family and with your weather… But take breaks. Not one week here and there, but real, multiple-week breaks at one time.
Todd Wilson headshot

odd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe and Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. Todd and his wife Debbie homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at: www.familymanweb.com.