My college roommate, Lizzie, would interrupt days of studying monotony with,  “OK –what are you looking forward to, short term and long term?”  

 

Lizzie was right, we all need things to look forward to. In quarantine land, it’s the monotony that’s our undoing, the ongoing, relentless rinse and repeat of life at home, without things we’re excited about on the horizon. At this point, I’m done with making up short-term things to propel myself through these days. And so the summer beckons as the only hope on my horizon, my long-term thing, if Lizzie asks. Summer has to be the time when things start to feel better. 

 

For families, I feel fairly certain that summer will start with putting school books firmly away, getting far from Zoom lessons, and celebrating the change. It’s been more than a grind, it’s been a huge responsibility amidst all the rest of this chaos. Parents I’ve spoken with have either punted a little or a lot of late, and they feel a mixture of guilt and relief. It’s been too much. There has been an all-over pressure to be both teacher and parent, and then, an underlying and essential burden of trying to keep things positive, to keep the learning and living on course. That meant making up things for kids to look forward to, lifting them up with hopeful moments in the future, when they were despondent about being stuck in the at-home present. I imagine this summer is more precious to families than any summer before.

 

That’s why schools need to have plans in place for this summer more than any other. They have to give kids learning opportunities that have the feel of summertime to everyone, so the one thing that is keeping families going, the hope of summer carefree days, lives up to its vision. 

 

For little ones, the weeks without any formal learning has the potential to make the summer slide a Covid-cliff. That’s why Abound makes so much sense, and goes back to why I started it in the first place: parents can keep up the drumbeat of learning in quick and easy ways, over cereal, and schools can know that they are doing something that gives families opportunities to build reading skills.