Should I Have my Children Take Summer Classes During Their Vacation?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Many parents wonder whether children will benefit from summer classes. Since there are often a wide variety of summer classes to choose from, at varying levels of expense, there can be some advantage to a child who takes one or more classes. A summer class can be anything from a formal branch of study in a particular school topic to less formal studies in art, music, dance, athletics, or individual interests like computer programming, how to become a DJ, theater classes that end in participation in a play.

Swim classes provide a child with exercise and enhance their awareness of proper water safety.
Swim classes provide a child with exercise and enhance their awareness of proper water safety.

Parents often make a strong case for their children taking summer classes because they have options available to them in summer that may not be available in their own schools, and they give children an opportunity to “do something” interesting, or to pursue an interest or hobby. Others want summer classes for kids to help them with a particular issue they’re having trouble with in school. In this case, classes could be offered at learning and teacher centers, or through formal summer school.

Students may enjoy taking a computer programming class during their summer break.
Students may enjoy taking a computer programming class during their summer break.

Other families argue to the reverse, and suggest the two to three months of summer may be the one period of the year where children have unscheduled time. They’ve seen their children make leaps in maturity in the past, through a relaxing summer, and they like giving kids a chance to purse any interests on their own. Families may also offer some form of “organic” learning over the summer, where the child learns as a result of his/her environment. If mom or dad is cooking a meal, the child may learn to make a salad, cook eggs, boil water or make dessert. Alternately, families plan visits to places of interest that have learning value such as museums of all types, national points of interest, or travel to any new place.

A number of families strike a middle road offering their children a class or two during the summer, but also offering them learning opportunities at home and some unstructured time too. You may want to gauge whether your child should take summer classes by talking with them about their interests, or you may feel compelled by a child’s poor grades to either dedicate part of your own time during the summer or enroll a child in summer school to help them with a school subject that is plaguing them. Alternately, you may feel that a total break from studies is needed to help the child “recover” from a stressful school year.

If you live in an area where people have pools and swim frequently, probably the one summer class your child should take is a swimming class. This will help a child learn how to confidently swim and help you assess the child’s level of swimming experience prior to swimming field trips or swim parties offered by friends. If you have rights to a pool or possess your own, you may be able to teach children to swim through frequent trips to the pool. Yet advanced swimming classes may still be of benefit to a child who has gotten down the basics through your teaching.

When you’re looking for summer classes for your children, you’ll find a number of them available. They are offered as school extensions, through Parks & Recreation departments, through clubs like the Boys and Girls Club, and also through learning centers, YMCAs and YWCAs, and a number of private facilities. Some classes are free and others cost quite a bit, but there are usually classes available in so much variety and price range, that you can find something to fit your budget and your child’s needs or interests.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


There is nothing wrong with kids taking summer classes. The article has made an excellent point that public schools do not have a wide range of classes available. Summertime is the perfect chance to fill in the gaps.

I have my kids take summer classes, but not for the whole summer. I make a deal with them every year. I choose one class, they choose one class and the remainder of the summer is still theirs to rest and enjoy.

I chose this method because I don't want them to be bored to death with uninteresting subjects. To motivate them, I let them pick one class like playing sports, learning an instrument or art. Then I choose one class for them that is more academic. My son is weak in the sciences so I chose a science course for him last year.

This way, we are all happy and they still get more than one month of vacation, to rest and prepare for the next school year. I think it is working great for us.


When I look back at my childhood, I remember how I used to wait for school to close for the summertime. This was my time to play, have fun and spend time with family. The best memories from my childhood are from those summer vacations.

In high school, I started to work in the summers and in college, I either worked or took summer classes. In a way, the summers in childhood are one and only. We don't get the opportunity to be so carefree ever again. My personal view is that we should give our children the chance to be children. My idea of a child's summer is not taking math classes. But I completely respect parents who want their kids to improve academically and would prefer to have them take summer classes to make that happen.


I think the answer to this question really depends on the child and his or her needs. If the child has had a stressful year and really needs some time off from studies and anything too demanding to feel better and confident, then absolutely.

If the child loves activity and would rather be learning something and interacting with other kids rather than sitting at home in the summer, then that is clearly the right choice for them.

I think parents should discuss it with them, give them a couple of options and see what they prefer to do. It might also be a good idea to discuss this with teachers at school. Since they know how the child is doing at school and interacting with their peers the best, they could have some good insight about summer classes.

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