Why I Don’t Teach Kids in the Summer

Teach kids in the summer?  Are you crazy-people?  I have friends and colleagues who teach at camps, conduct their own art camps, work at art centers, etc during the summer for a little extra money. More power to them.  However, you won’t be finding me doing the same, and here is why…

1. Burnout– Oh my goodness. I am so burnt of out kids and reminding them of directions and trying to manage effectively by the end of the school year that I totally need a break from the sheer management of the whole deal.  As I have mentioned before, I have to work VERY hard at classroom management, I don’t feel it is my strong point.  Working so hard at something can get exhausting and I am ready for a break from it all.

2. Talking– Do you get tired of hearing the sound of my own voice by the end of the year?  Talking, talking, talking that is all we do as teachers.  I am ready to just not talk.  Or stand. My feet hurt!

3. Brain Game– Teachers are afforded the opportunity to have summer to use their mind in new ways.  I enjoy learning over the summer, planning, interacting with adults through teaching online classes, and doing things that are intellectually stimulating.  I get some of my best ideas for the upcoming school year during the summer. It actually becomes fun to plan and think of revamping your classroom in new ways, not a chore. Embrace it!

4. Refresh- The summer I nannied full-time I did not feel refreshed to go back to work in the fall.  I didn’t take any time for professional things and I felt like I had “kid over-load.”  I want to enter the year feeling refreshed and ready to go, I want to be well-rounded and I want to take time to do other things I love that make ‘me’ who I am.

5.  No Guilt- Many people ask me why I am not doing a camp, or working with kids, or why I don’t teach art lessons over the summer. Frankly, I feel I am pretty balanced in my passions within the art education world. I love professional development, I love teaching, I love learning and reading, I love helping other teachers with their own learning– I really don’t feel bad for not working with kids over the summer.  I am doing professional things that help me PREPARE for kiddos, but I am just not spending time WITH the kiddos.  Bless them. Really.

Moral of the Story: A break from the daily grind will make you a better teacher!! 


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • I agree…..I think it is very important for a teacher to “take a breather” over the summer. I have often thought about having a summer camp art program at my home because parents have asked me. Usually I am tired and ready just to spend the summer time reading (professional books as well as pleasure) and just hanging out with my smaller children.

  • I very much agree with you. It’s a much needed refresh time. I do spend quite a lot of summer time rethinking lessons and finding new ones, improving upon teaching techniques, and interacting with other art educators online. I really enjoy coming up or finding new ideas and learning new things – it’s very stimulating. I do not like when the stress of the classroom gets to me and breaks are very important to refuel the soul!

  • I agree with you completely! I’ve been an art director at a GirlScout camp, taught my own art camps, and even worked summer retail jobs! They all left me feeling either tired and unfulfilled or even more burnt out than I was when I left school in May! Just started taking Grad classes this summer for my Master’s and even though it’s a lot of work my MIND feels nourished! I think I will be ready to roll when we go back in August :)

  • I am with all of you! In addition to enjoying the beach, developing new interests like kayaking and biking, traveling and spending time with my family, summer is a guarenteed time to enjoy my own art! I have been tempted to teach in response to our summer enrichment program, which would be great money and not a lot of time. However, my first commitment is to be the best I can be at the commitments I have already made. After these last hectic weeks of the school year, I am eager to have some open ended time where the rest of my life takes precedent.

  • One of my other colleagues also mentioned that kids need time to be kids. – Catch fireflies, go camping, swim, hangout, read, etc. When were your greatest memories formed? When I hear my 4th grade neighbor talking about stress it makes my heart so sad. Are kids really that stressed? Do we as teachers do this to them? Kids need summer as much as teachers. Glad I am not the only one who feels this way.

  • Not that I don’t agree with you, I just can’t afford to take the summer off. Especially this year! Madison teachers took a HUGE pay cut the last few months for fighting for our students’ educations. We also took a HUGE cut in our benefits with the new budget bill that was passed Thursday night. Those two things combined, summer school allows me to almost break even. Almost.

    Someday I hope to be able to take a break during the summer. I’m a little jealous!

    I am forming a social action group with some of my former students (new 6th graders!). This isn’t draining because the kids and I are developing new interests together. There are things I’d love to do as a teacher that I know I’m not allowed to. With parent permission, the kids and I will be writing letters, e-mails and lobbying for their education this summer. I’m so excited to teach them to fight for their futures!

    So when you talk about forming new hobbies and learning new things, it’s just happening in a different way.

    • Great Point, here! You are still energizing yourself, becoming a better person and teacher and taking a break from the norm. I would also like to add that my own “Break” which I am calling it (ha) involves teaching 6 graduate level courses through AOE and another university as well as starting my own business with my AOE classes, not a cake walk but it’s exciting, fulfilling, chasing a dream and DIFFERENT, and that is the key. My mind is happy and so are my feet!

      The summers that I have worked full time or taken classes to get my masters were also very fulfilling and the money was very helpful. You are doing great things!

  • I think working in the summer is more about balance. I believe that every teacher rejuvenates in a different way and what works for one may not work for another. I have generally worked most summers that i have taught. I have been an Art Specialist working at a specific camp, an Art Coordinator setting a program for all the camps in a specific area, taught english, math, study skills, reading and learning support at summer school, as well as just being an Art Educator at a camp. Each position varied in time, commitment, and pay.
    I like working in the summer especially in the position and place i presently work in. It is fun! And no stress. There are no responsibilities other than just doing ART. I also recognize within myself what my needs are and plan accordingly. I have found that working with children in the summer allows me to prepare for the upcoming school year by practicing what I want to teach in a stress free environment with children that want to do ART. The best part- no paperwork!
    I’ve been teaching long enough to remember when there was more interacting with students and less required administrative work of teachers. And the interaction with students is what i love.
    Where I live summer programs are either for 4, 6, or 8 weeks. That being said there is always time to totally be a recluse if necessary. :)

  • Yes, I agree with everyone for once! I do not work in the summers. I think I’d rather downsize my house than work in the summer. We get from June 24th to August 22 that’s 8 weeks. It’s hard to find a job for 8 weeks unless you’re working with kids doing the same thing. I have done art with kids many summers. I used to live by the philosophy “you have to make hay while the sun shines,” but what good is hay with no one to share it with? You have to make time for yourself and family.

    But You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do. . . if districts are cutting. . . working a summer or two is necessary. It is possible to go to work and enjoy it no matter what. . . even in the worst of situations. It takes a lot of energy though.

    Jessica is right. People might think wow, teachers get paid to have the summers off but really time off is necessary when working with children. I’d like to see these same people see 30 different kids every hour, everyday, know their names, their favorite pokemon, video games, family situations, etc. and only then begin to teach. As a parent I hope that my daughter’s teacher enjoys her summer how every he/she can!

    My best summer was when I went to Anderson Ranch in CO and took some alternative photography processes that mixed old processes with digital. It was expensive but as soon as Stella is ready (next year) we’re going again! Dad can take her fishing while I go to class. Or maybe this time I’ll take some mommy time! ANDERSON RANCH IS AWESOME!

    • Erica! I know you’ll make it back because you love it so much. When you have your own kids, summers are about spending time with them, too. We are lucky to have the OPTION to work or do something different in the summers. Other people do not even have the choice, so that, for one, is something to be thankful for.

  • Amen, my sister. I am right there with you. When I was young and broke, I taught during the summer. Now that I am older and not quite as broke, I renew myself during the summer. jan

  • Summer school is one of my least favorite things.

  • Meredith Gould Tateo

    I take time off to enjoy my own child who doesn’t get all of my attention during the school year. And I find I need the creative opportunities that time off gives me. I don’t need to give directions and manage things, I can just create whatever and whenever I want.

  • BossySnowAngel

    Most of you will find that as you get older, a break isn’t optional. Facing 60 years this year, I find that I am truly and deeply tired. The first week of break I’m just recovering from the exhaustion of end of year, AP and such. Although my younger teachers want to start an art camp (and more power to them if they do) we have so many competitive camps in the area. Money really isn’t the issue, it is time. And I would like time to live my life for a few weeks without having to get up and go somewhere and manage other people. I need time to be me.

  • Ms. C

    I would love to take summers “off”. I used to, when my children were at home and it was such a blessing! Now I have college educations to pay off, so I run my own summer art program. Since I teach high school during the year, I try to teach mostly elementary classes in the summer. I appreciate the change of pace, but let me tell you…I am burned out by the end of July!!! Would I prefer to crank out work in my own studio instead? Of course. But practicality rules right now.