Many of you probably remember that wonderful song that started with the line, “Summer time and the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high, your Poppa’s rich and your Momma’s good lookin’, hush little baby, don’t you cry…”
That wonderful song was written about a different time and a different type of life. I don’t agree with some folk that it was a better type of life, but it was a very different one. How is summer time different today?
When fish were jumping and cotton was high, America was primarily an agricultural society, summer vacation from school was meant to provide families with the extra hands of children on the farm to help with the entire process of farming. Despite the fact that we are in a post industrial age in which our society has become highly technological, we retain the custom of closing our schools for ten weeks between the end of June and beginning of September. This varies from state to state and from community to community depending on when it is decided that schools close and re- open.
There have been significant recent advances in the study of the relationship between consistent, good parenting and adolescent development. Several recent intervention studies with a parenting component demonstrated immediate and long-term protective effects on adolescent risk behavior. Parent-child connectedness and authoritative parenting style are protective for your children. Parental monitoring has a protective effect on adolescent risk behaviors in both middle-class populations and poor, urban environments. Parental monitoring has been shown both to moderate the effect of peer influence and to persist into late adolescence. Unsupervised time, however, has the converse effects.
This ten week gap in education presents a dilemma for many families. Effective parenting demands that parents keep their children occupied and out of trouble for that length of time. In addition, it is a well established fact that many children lose some of the gains that they made in reading and math during this long interruption in their educational routine.
Parents: don’t allow this to happen. You know your children better than anyone else. You’re the best people to know what is best for your children. Take advantage of the opportunity to begin now (if you haven’t already) seeking age appropriate activities which will occupy your children with fun activities and learning activities as well.
If your children are adolescents, they are likely to present a challenge during summer vacation. Don’t wait! Get busy now assuring that you can meet the challenges presented by your teens. Don’t allow the unstructured time available to them to become a liability. Make it an asset, one of fun and learning!
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