I may catch some flack for this post in the land of the free home of the 3 month summer vacay, but I am just sharing my personal thoughts here. No pressure.
First off the disclaimer. I am all for kids being kids. I love the idea of learning through play. I agree we need breaks. All of us.
Now for the shock and horror. I think year round school would be the ideal model. I am not not even suggesting more school, just a little more evenly spread.
That’s why my kids do summer school around here.
There I said it, okay? I care about my kids maintaining in June-August some of what they learned academically in September- May.
However, it’s not like I send them off to boarding school or we sit down with books at desks all morning long. It’s super low key, and at this age I have not heard one complaint. When they are older it will probably look different, but here is what it looks like for now.
SJ (first grade) goes to a private school for the deaf and since she has a lot of catching up to do summer school is important. We have done fund raisers, grants, and anything we could come up with for her to be able to attend school through part of the summer. It’s critical for her. Even with the summer program she still sometimes regresses during the 6 weeks she has off.
Z (3rd grade) truly loves to learn and actually thrives in that traditional school setting. One of his classmates really struggled in school this year and his teacher said he needed summer tutoring for reading and writing. This was concerning for his family who couldn’t afford a tutor so I told them to sign me up. I may not be a certified teacher, but when it comes to reading and writing I have lots of heart! Plus it’s 3rd grade. I think I can hang at this point in the game. So I’ve been doing homeschool lessons with the boys a few hours a week. I even plan to have them do a guest post here on the blog so be on the look out for that!
Sometimes I wonder why our system is the way it is. Why does it make sense to have such a big break at one time? If we are trying to cultivate a thirst for knowledge then why is there so much push back for learning in the summer? There are different theories on the origin of summer break. Regardless of why it’s always been this way research shows it is failing our students and my mind wonders if it will ever change.
I talked to my mom about my theory of having the same amount of days off but spread out, and she disagreed at first. She said You always bounced right back after summer break and were all the better for it. Indeed. This is true, but kudos to my mom for inspiring us to read, create, and discover all summer long. I like to say that I am “a homeschool mom trapped in a public school mom’s body” and I definitely get that from my mom. That’s why it makes complete sense that summer break worked for us. Sadly it is the low income income, special needs, ESL, and latchkey kids that are suffering (which means the majority of American children).
Summer is almost over. So far this year my kids have been able to explore other parts of the country, go to museums, VBS, the library, and state parks. We’ve done science experiments, summer reading programs, math games and more. This summer has been full of enrichment.
But before you think I have pedigree children that are fully cultivated let me tell you what else they did all summer long. They watched My Little Pony. I am talking hours and hours at a time. They also discovered the hilarity of America’s Funniest Home Videos. They ran around outside and played in the sprinklers. They got injuries, made huge messes, and were sleep deprived. They also ate gummy worms and tons of other foods void of nutrients. They didn’t do any service projects that I know of. Oh and they bickered A LOT.
I often hear the all or nothing approach when it comes to implementing academics in the summer. It doesn’t have to be that extreme. I really feel like my kids dodged the summer slide by practicing just a small fraction of school work in the summer months and they were still able to have gobs of time to veg out.
The school calendar is a complicated subject, I am not claiming to have a solution on a national level. However, I am saying it could stand to be evaluated.