At work and at play | Summertime: education or vegetation?

The summer holidays are approaching, and while they promise lots of fun times outside, the big question is what to do with the children during all those weeks out of school?


With summer holidays that can last from six to 14 weeks, people in different countries deal with them in different ways. Some places, like the Netherlands, have really short holidays, with about six weeks off (most Danish kids get seven), usually from mid-July to late August.


Vacation in the United States lasts three months, usually from Memorial Day to Labour Day, and many parents send their children to summer camps. Over the years, they have become a real institution: a mainstream part of childhood where kids form life-long friendships, experiencing things in the great outdoors that they would not during term time.


However, there is a strong argument for having shorter summer vacations. It is believed that children can forget large amounts of information and academic knowledge if they do not study for more than four to six weeks. It is sometimes called ‘summer learning loss’. And in some countries, especially in Asia, parents will send their children to ‘cram school’ or summer school so that they continue studying and are prepared for the new school year. 


Other education reformers believe that children need a long summer break to relax and to take a break from the main causes of childhood stress: peer pressure, bullying and homework.


In Denmark, many people go to højskole during the holidays and can take courses in many different fields, in different parts of the country. One great thing about it is that many grand-parents take their grand-children to these højskoler with them, and I think it is a great way for them to bond while parents work and have a break themselves. This could also be a great way for foreigners to experience Danish culture, see remote parts of the country and improve their language skills.


All in all, I feel that summer is a time for inspiration. Whatever children do, it is a time when people grow, learn something new and connect with others. Have a great summer everyone!