Rebecca Rider column: Summer’s here to stay

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

There’s nothing quite as nostalgic as the last day of school. When the doors closed last Wednesday, a lifetime of habit kicked in and I felt that old, familiar summer lethargy creeping in. I was ready for a vacation, too.

But as things would have it, I’m not in school any more, and this is my first year without a summer vacation – or a period of time that feels like “summer.” I have never been more jealous of a kindergartener than when one told me about her vacation plans last week.

Instead of visiting the beach, I’ll be here, working – typing away and scrounging about for summer camps, training weeks and planning meetings. I feel like I should pick up a project, or a hobby.

Funnily enough, I’m sure many kids are in the same boat. I know I was always casting about for projects as the nine-week break turned sour and began to drag on and on. The school system sent me a list of recommendations for activities for kids to prevent “summer slide.”

It was a long list, and I wouldn’t have done anything on it when I was in school. So here are a few suggestions of my own:

1. Read

OK, OK, I lied. This appeared on the list I was sent. But it really is important – not just to keep your mind primed and ready to go when school starts back, but because it’s fun, and a book is a very good way to pass the time when summer break starts seeming endless. When I was in elementary school I became famous at my local library branch for showing up biweekly and checking out a stack of books that towered over my head.

I didn’t read all of them, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that I tried to read all of them, and along the way I figured out which sort of book and story that I liked. Assigned reading doesn’t give a lot of variety – summer is your chance to figure out what you really like. I promise you, there’s a book out there for everyone.

2. Explore

Got a handy patch of woods? A stream or lake? An empty lot? There’s a lot of fun to be had, and a lot to be found, in out-of-the-way places. You’ll be surprised at what lives and grows there. If you want to make it educational, ecosystems exist everywhere – just sit back for a minute and watch. But if not, there’s something to be said about spending a summer afternoon outside getting covered in mud and dirt.

3. Make art

I think I had some sort of so-called artistic masterpiece to show at the end of every summer. I painted anything that would hold color (including our floors), and used up all of the paper in the house. My mom used to hand me a stack of paper, some markers and a plastic spine and I’d write and illustrate my own books. I’d make dozens of them in the course of a summer.

4. Find a project

Summer is a great time to tackle something you’ve always wanted to do. Organize everything, write a book, learn an instrument, make new friends, take up a hobby or just decide that you’re going to have fun, every day.

After all, summer isn’t really all about the break and the travel; it’s about the opportunities.


Contact education reporter Rebecca Rider at or 704-797-4264.