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Year-round school: A good or a bad idea?

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Well, here it is, the end of another school year. I’d say we all have mixed feelings about the onset of summer “vacation.” Is summer really a vacation for anyone anymore?

I grew up in a pretty traditional family set-up. My mom didn’t work outside the home. I lived in a house on Lake Michigan. (Yes, lucky me!) I fondly remember idyllic summers playing in the woods near my house, digging in the sand, and splashing in the water. I don’t remember being enrolled in many day camps or having a babysitter. I remember running around my neighborhood and banging on doors until I found someone to play with me or tormenting my two big sisters.

Well, that’s not really how summer works anymore.

My third grade daughter doesn’t share the same sense of eagerness for summer break. She likes a routine and to know what’s coming each day. She enjoys school. She’s not necessarily excited to be a fourth-grader. Summer presents several weeks of unknowns, including Girl Scout and other camps she’s never done before. Summer also means two work-at-home parents attempting to balance professional demands and family fun and not always succeeding. (Do they have wireless at the local city pool?)

Why not year-round school?

For these reasons I happen to be a fan of year-round school. Or even better, I say let’s embrace the European model of four or five weeks time off for everyone – including paid time off for working parents – every summer to give families a chance to take longer trips or get involved in new community projects or initiatives. (There is also the amount of knowledge drained from young brains over three months out of the classroom. Is this really the best use of our taxpayer resources?)

I believe I am a lone voice in the wilderness on this. So, until society changes and we get rid of summer “vacation,” I, too, will do my best to enjoy the waning days of another school year.

My third-grader had outdoor field activities today, then a class party this Thursday along with an awards ceremony. I signed up to bring the popsicles (the naturally flavored kind, of course). Last week, the kids had a rollicking good time on the Banjo Billy Bus Tour for their final school field trip, which culminated at the Boulder History Museum. I passed on volunteering for that one.

My darling Serbian teenaged exchange student, meanwhile, will dance Thursday as part of a class demonstration at the ever-innovative New Vista High School in Boulder as part of the non-traditional school’s final Exhibition Day. For her, the end of the school year means it’s almost time to go home – another bag of mixed emotions to be addressed in this blog next week.

Meantime, we’ll most certainly enjoy the final school picnics and warmer weather. And I, personally, am setting a goal to embrace a “vacation” frame of mind even when work beckons – not unlike the kids in the above photo, who find fun in something as simple as an empty plastic swimming pool.


In your opinion: Is year-round school a good or a bad idea?

EdNews Parent editor Julie Poppen is a former daily newspaper journalist who has covered a multitude of school issues in Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver. She is also the mother of a third grader in Boulder Valley and regular, though not always perfectly proficient, classroom volunteer. Read her weekly blog Confessions of a Partially Proficient Parent.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson June 2, 2011

    Personally, I wouldn’t be opposed to year-round school so long as both my kids were enrolled at the same time. Where it would get tricky is if they had different schedules (one in a middle school that wasn’t year-round etc.) so our summer vacation would be all messed up.

  • comment avatar Paula June 2, 2011

    I do not know much about a year round school because we have always been in a traditional school! I do know that we NEED a break! Perhaps having a year round school with several breaks wouldn’t be a bad idea!

  • comment avatar Paula June 2, 2011

    I like that idea too, going on vacation in places during off peak! And I agree with you Sherry, we started our first day of break off with a few at home school lessons. Both the kids are required to read, we will be doing math and they are both very excited to be jumping in at writing their very own chapter books! Which when they are done I will be publishing the books for them from! 😀

  • comment avatar Clare June 2, 2011

    I used to teach in a year round school and loved it! Teachers and kids dont get burnt out….and not nearly as much re teaching after one month.

  • comment avatar Mama Bird June 9, 2011

    Year-round, or the track system, I guess they’re the same thing are very appealing to us to be able to travel during off-season. And, shorter breaks so no one loses their mind!

  • comment avatar Tiffanie Huntley June 9, 2011

    We lived in Tennessee for 9 years and we were on year round school. We loved it! Especially since it’s so hot in July and August. We have a month off in October, March, and June. When we first moved here I heard that Jeffco schools started moving towards year round school and all the parents fought it. I couldn’t understand why. It’s hard for the kids to go back to school after 3 months and have to relearn everything before learning new things finally. I know people are set in their ways, but I think that once your used to it (and day care is used to it for those that work) it’s better for everyone.

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