While recently talking to an Italian friend about summer, she recalled how as a child she loved playing in the fountains to celebrate the end of the school year, and the long family holidays in August. I shared my own memories: the crowded community pool and day camps, as my American parents didn’t get weeks of summer vacation.
Depending on the country you’re living in, the norm for how children will fill their summers differs. It can also open up logistical hassles, as parents working in international firms may not have holidays that line up with the host country norms.
Like me, many American kids only have short summer holidays with their parents, and then spend time at day camps, summer sleep-away camps, or with grandparents. French children may go on a weeks-long beach holiday with their parents, and Swedish children with working parents are entitled to a place in a government-sponsored leisure center called a fritidshem. Japanese students often don’t get much of a break if they are playing sports or aiming for a high-level university: summer is seen as extra hours for practice or cram school. The amount of time children have away from class also varies greatly, from three months in Italy to just under one in South Korea. For those whose districts have adopted year-round school, the break may be as little as two weeks!
Children of international families often use the vacation to spend valuable time in their family’s country of origin, which adds its own complications. Teens may prefer to spend their time off with school friends in the host destination rather than being taken on a family trip, and work schedules may mean the non-working spouse has to bear the brunt of the travel by taking the kids alone.
In all cases, the summer holiday will depend in large part on which school you select. It may follow the local school schedule, the schedule of the country whose curriculum has been adopted, or an alternate schedule, such as year-round or block term schooling. At Living Abroad, we offer a thorough rundown of local and private school options, with links that will guide you to homepages offering calendars of the school year and an overview of summer programs and obligations, so you aren’t caught off guard by too much or too little time. With a little knowledge and planning, summer can be an enriching time for all.
Written by Kate Havas, GMS-T, Content Manager