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What’s your summer parenting style?

Should summer break be about R&R, hitting the books, or something in between? Identify your summer style – and how you can make it work to your kids’ advantage.

By Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann

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Summer style #1: Laid-back

“Summer should be a complete break. My kids have earned it.” This sounds like you? Then “Laid-back” is your summer style.

You and your kids are relishing the prospect of sleeping in and spending hours outdoors. You’re more likely to take your kids to the pool than the library, and you'll make every attempt to keep stress to a minimum. Indeed, there's merit in letting your kids unwind. In the current drill-and-kill academic atmosphere, school pressures can mount, piling stress on the shoulders of kids as young as kindergarten.

But before you drop the reigns entirely, consider these sobering summer stats: 60 percent of parents relax their TV rules during the summer, with kids dramatically upping their screen time; children's BMIs rise up to three times faster during the summer; and research by RAND (published in "Making Summer Count") found kids lose a month of learning, with math skills being the hardest hit. But don't put your kids on a strict gym-library rotation just yet. Kate Shatzkin, spokeswoman for the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), says “summer is a special time" to learn in a different way. Parents can take advantage of the "outdoor classroom" by bringing books beach- and pool-side, teaching plant and animal names, and helping spot numerical patterns in nature.

Bottom line: Excessive recreation and relaxation can lead to learning loss. Combat it with fun in the sun that involves learning, too.

Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann is a freelance writer based in Detroit. She has written for  children's health and parenting magazines and blogs about both topics at Mom meets baby.

Comments from readers

"I am type #2, learning light. We read every day, and do math worksheets twice a week. The kids also practice their foreign language with their dad, and my son practices piano. Obviously, there are days when we are too busy to do any work, and that's fine. Summer is for relaxing, with a little bit of work thrown in so the kids won't be starting from scratch in the Fall (I've seen how much math they really do forget in just a few weeks!) "
"I'm a number #3 for parent summer style "
"about a month ago i sign up for a program on line for the kids.i dont remember the name. it was 999 and $2.00 for each add child. i got it o your site. i can not log on because i can not remember can u all help? "
"I am a #3. I try to keep the days leisurely, but add in reading daily for 20 mins., I sit and read too. I try to add math several times a week, sometimes with worksheets and incorporating math into daily activities. We try to include learning in our daily living and make not seem like a chore "
"I have a schedule for them but I need to know how to make it on the computer. I'm not handy that way. Any ideas besides and xcel spreadsheet? "