Year-round school: A good or a bad idea?
posted by: Guest Blogger
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.