(CNN) During summers before the pandemic, I was delighted to let my 7-year-old explore different sides of himself than what he focuses on during the school year. This might have meant more time in nature, doing fun coding projects, binge-reading age-appropriate spy series or spraying his little brother with the hose.
I saw it as enrichment, but not the intensive parenting variety in which each and every activity must fit inside a neat trajectory leading to college acceptance, leading to an impressive degree, leading to a top-notch resume, leading to an impressive job. Instead, I wanted him to discover new interests and have a good time. This summer, with a pandemic-disrupted semester behind us and a pandemic-disrupted one likely in front of us, feels different. These days, I’m getting tempted to trot out the worksheets. Will he forget how to write an upper-case “Q”? How division works? What a topic sentence is?
I had heard about the summer slide, or the way children can academically regress over the summer break, and I wondered what this would mean for our education-deprived children this year. The pandemic will likely have a negative impact on the education of millions of children throughout the United States and around the world, particularly those families without internet access or a caregiver who can oversee their education.
Whether this means that I need to push math problems on my kid this summer is another question. Newer research on summer learning loss shows that taking a summer-length break from academics isn’t an inevitable setback for kids, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Also, the break from prescriptive academics could give families a chance to focus on social and emotional learning, teaching our kids much-needed coping skills in these scary and unpredictable times.