New Survey: Parents want their children’s summer back

June 3, 2021

With millions of Americans receiving vaccines every day, including children as young as 12, summer 2021 is expected to be much more open, eventful and full of opportunities for self-driven exploration than last year’s. And, according to a new YouGov survey commissioned by 50CAN, the Afterschool Alliance, and the Charles Koch Institute, that is just what parents want for their children rather than mandated school programs.

In a poll of 1,000 Americans, 52 percent said they want this summer to be a time of free play and discovery for their kids. High percentages of parents said they plan to prioritize outdoor and physical activity and nontraditional enrichment programs for their children over traditional scholastic programs. When given a menu of options, respondents chose outdoor activities, enrichment opportunities, clubs and hobbies, the arts, sports, and work experience above one-size-fits-all programs like summer school or state-run tutoring. Only 26 percent reported they would prioritize academic studies in core subjects or applied learning.

“While there is concern about loss of classroom instruction, it’s clear that parents want to preserve their family’s autonomy and their children’s options this summer,” said Adam Peshek, a senior education fellow at the Charles Koch Institute. “Summers have always been the time of year when kids have the most freedom and flexibility to explore interests and learn in ways that best meet their unique needs, and parents want to continue to provide them that space. Beneficial learning often takes place beyond the four walls of a classroom or the glare of a computer screen. We should not take away those important growth opportunities that have lifelong impact just to check a bureaucratic box.”

An overwhelming majority of Americans seem to agree with this sentiment. When asked to choose one summer activity for those in grades eight to twelve, 70 percent of parents said they want their child to do something active, outside of a classroom. Specifically, 31 percent said they would want their child to get work experience; 25 percent responded they prefer physical activities that get children moving; and 14 percent specified social activities (e.g. clubs, scouting, etc.). Only 22 percent said they would choose for their child to pursue academic studies in core subjects.

Read the full survey and learn more about the ongoing uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, school closures, and their impact on children.

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