A Plea For Summer Vacation

In Waldorf Education, we have vacation in the month of December, we have two whole weeks around Easter, and we take a true Summer Vacation.

Summer Vacation in the United States seems to almost be becoming a thing of the past.  The shelves of Barnes and Noble are crammed with workbooks so your child will not be “ left behind”; every parenting magazine I pick up talks about reading and summer contests for reading so children don’t lose the ability to read; so many homeschoolers I know homeschool  through the summer months….

Ah, but I think in so many ways it is productive to focus on things other than the eyes as connected to the brain during Summer!   Summer is this time when we gloriously live in our senses and take in Nature and all of Creation in this beautiful running stream!  Why would we not work with this time of year instead of trying to work against it?  Growth occurs in the Summer in the body, in the way we process things through those twelve senses!  There are so many things to be learned in the Summer that  one cannot learn from any book and there are  so many skills to develop!

Here are a few examples:  picking fruit from thorny vines and having the sticky juice run down your arms, traveling to the lake, the mountains or the beach and walking barefoot over the sand or tree roots, weeding in the garden in the hot, canning, building, bonfires on St. John’s Tide, camping, fireworks, eating watermelon, swimming in a really cold lake.

If you must focus on something, my plea is to focus on the physical, the practical.  If your child is over five, can they swim really well?  Ride a bike?  Roller skate? Climb a tree?  Traverse the monkey bars by themselves?  Do they help with canning?  Can they clean?  How can they  help with camping?

Most of all, whilst the children play, this is your time to get your house in order for fall, your time to plan your fall homeschool year, and also your time to be outside making joyous memories with your family.

So, my plea is to make this a true vacation, but also to have a balance.  Please speak with your spouse and have at least once a week (or more!) in which you can plan for fall.  Sit down with a calendar and don’t plan to be out every single afternoon – also plan some time to get your house ready for fall.  Slow and steady wins the race for we adults…

But please let the children be on break!  They will come back tan and tall and ready to learn!

Many blessings,


14 thoughts on “A Plea For Summer Vacation

  1. Carrie,
    here in Italy school finishes in June (this year on the 11th) and starts in September, the 13th. It varies in every region but the difference is not big. What is weird is that Kindergarten-preschool, our “scuola materna 3-6” end later at the end of june and starts earlier!
    Together with Spain and Greece I guess we have the longest summer vacation in Europe. That’s because we have shorter breaks during the year.

    I imagine in the US it differs in every state but can you tell me how long is summer break in the average?


    P.S. My most treasured childhood’s memories are my 4 months long summer vacation in the mountains. In the 70ties school ended on June the 1st and started October the 1st. My mom didn’t work and I didn’t go to scuola materna so we used to leave Milan and enjoy the summer. To let my daughter live such an experience is amongst the reasons I gave up working for her first three years and now I work a little during the year and stop around mid June.

    • Hi Federica,
      I am so excited to read your comments, and I love your perspective. I need to come to Italy and visit! Your summer memories are so beautiful! I have a lot of those as well – summers on a lake, summers in my neighborhood with all the neighborhood children and these memories mean more to me now that I am older, LOL.
      Here, in the Southern US the school year is mid August – early or mid May, and in the Northern US the school year is typically the Tuesday after Labor Day (so September 5th or so??) to June something…


  2. Hear, hear! This is also the reason I am so drawn to Waldorf … the letting children be children by waiting to introduce academics until they are developmentally ready.

    I lived on a farm until I was 9 years old and all the reading and planning I’ve been doing to start homeschool kindergarten in the fall is taking me back to so many memories I have of a “waldorf” childhood. It wasn’t called that back then, just farm life. But, it sure involved a lot of time spent exploring nature and just being a child.

    So, my goal this summer is to continue to work on rhythm, outside time (even on the scorching and humid gulf coast) and spending as much time at the pool as possible. Oh, and to eat lots of watermelon — my son’s favorite fruit!

    Thanks again Carrie.

  3. oh, Carrie … it is as if you peeked into my windows this week and saw the problem. I think you’re right: we need to balance our time so that through the course of the year we spend as much time with the bikes as with the books.

    “Most of all, whilst the children play, this is your time to get your house in order for fall, your time to plan your fall homeschool year, and also your time to be outside making joyous memories with your family.”

    Thank you for the reminder and the encouragement, today! Your kind words are always such a comfort to me.

  4. Hi Carrie
    Good post, I do agree with your point of a good break from academics and just enjoy the summer. Can’t we just let them be kids?

    Also I wanted to thank you for the introduction to the ‘Waldorf connection’ I have been enjoying the new series of workshops. I listened to the replay of the interview with Kim John Payne author of ‘Simplicity Parenting’ last night, my husband was in the room and listened as well. He would never read the book but found the interview so interesting and we had a good talk afterwards.

  5. Our school system here (in Utah) goes from mid-August through the first week in June.

    I am shocked the number of moms I know who are sending their kids to summer school (not for remedial work, but just “because”…) or are planning to make their children do a certain amount of worksheets every day through the summer. And when my son brought home the info about the state’s summer reading program the other day, I threw it in the trash!

    We will be homeschooling in the fall, Waldorf-style, so my plan is for a very relaxed summer with plenty of planning time for me.

  6. I totally agree too….. a nice change of pace does everyone good and leaves you refreshed and ready to tackle your work anew. I’ve noticed academics creeping into summer too. My 9 year old nephew has come home from school with a packet of summer work to do. It seems “more is better” is the modus operandi in some schools.

  7. Carrie,

    If/when you have time , can you explain more about what vacation means in Waldorf Education. I’m all for vacation, but I know I need to keep at least some of our rhythm anchors or my 5.5yo will turn into a wacko in short order 😉 I’m considering doing a sort of Forest Kindy for the summer – spending most of our time in a nearby forest – letting the kids free but I’m assuming I need to keep the basics, so a summer rhythm might be: up/dressed/breakfast/go to forest – free play/snack/free play/lunch/nap for 2yo and quiet play for 5yo/free play/home for dinner/dinner prep/dinner/bed prep/bed.

    Thanks for your thoughts – not necessarily about my specific idea, just about how to keep a rhythm under the Vacation umbrella.

    Emily Milikow
    with Yoav 5.5yo, Elie 2.5yo

  8. You are so right, Carrie!

    Our kids go to a Waldorf School in Belgium (we live on the border in the Netherlands) and they have two months summerholiday, we love it. (Although we also get a lot of letters form daycares en childrencamps for those months and I do not like that idea, also, but that’s a different point 😉 )

    In december we are already looking forwards and counting the days till summer, when we do lots of familytravelling, camp out, and live outside!

    Wish you a very happy summer!

    • Nice to hear from a Dutch reader, I have several Dutch friends! And did you know one of my great-great grandfathers was born in Belgium?
      Happy Summer to you!
      Blessings to you!

  9. I can’t imagine doing academic work with children over the summer (other than reading aloud, but that’s for pleasure!) But, I do have to put in a good word for summer camps. I attended a summer camp here in Canada for many summers and absolutely loved it. It was a very rustic setting and the focus was entirely on outdoor activities: canoeing, camping, sports, water activities, crafts, music and drama … The pace was not frantic (and the daily schedule included reasonable bedtimes and an hour-long rest period after lunch for all ages) and my times spent there formed the basis of lifelong friendships.

    I definitely plan to send my own children to summer camp in the future (if I feel they have the right temperament).

  10. Pingback: Finishing Up The School Year « The Parenting Passageway

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