Are you worried about your children forgetting what they’ve learned all year during the summer?
Studies over the last few years have suggested that summer learning loss is a problem for students compared with their peers in year-round schooling. Education researchers agree that a shorter break is better for learning.
Advocates claim that year-round calendars help students achieve higher and allow teachers to provide more effective education. At the same time, other research has shown that year-round schooling does not increase scholastic achievement.
Cary Heise of StayatHomeRockStar.com and her family live outside Raleigh, North Carolina. Their area leads the state in population growth, expanding near 50% in one year. Their community is bursting young families and their year round school calendar allows 25% more students to use facilities.
“Our family loves to travel! We get breaks during all the seasons, which means we can travel any time of the year. Families benefit from travel savings when touring places like Disney at off-peak times,” says Heise.
For Heise, their school calendar is made up of four “tracks” – there are three tracks in school at all times. The only exception is the week of July 4th when all students are “tracked out”, meaning all on vacation at the same time. So for example, a track might begin mid-July and run for six weeks, out of school for three, back to school for nine weeks, out for three, in for six and so on.
This all-year school calendar works for Heise and her children. “I love having my kids around (mostly), after they are in school for six weeks, I miss them! They track out, we have a big old time for three weeks; traveling, visiting museums or just taking some down time. Then, when the fun has worn out, time to get back to school!”
In Canada, year-round education is more common in Alberta, where there are more than 20 schools offering that option in Calgary alone. But in most other provinces, a two-month summer vacation is the norm. Ontario has a handful of year-long programs.
A year-round school year features the same number of days and curriculum as regular Ontario schools, but almost half of the two-month summer vacation time on the traditional school calendar is spread throughout the year.
But does year-round school really help children retain the information they’ve learned? How is learning affected by the three-week breaks, four times a year? Does year-round schooling really help learning?
“The only challenge I find with year round school is that matching up family vacations with extended family who are on traditional school schedules,” said Heise. “It can also be difficult trying to meet up with friends that are local with everyone on different tracks. Even a neighborhood will have children on all different tracks.”
For others, challenges might come for finding programs or daycare to fill in the gaps.
With pros and cons for each year round education, here is a list of them to help you decide for yourself:
Do kids do better in year-round school?
Pros for year-round education
- Students tend to forget a lot during the summer, and shorter vacations might increase retention rates.
- Short breaks can provide time for students to receive enrichment education.
- More students can be accommodated at one school through multi-tracking.
- Students get bored during the long summer break
- Scheduling family vacations will be easier to arrange.
Cons against year-round education
- Studies have been inconclusive to its academic benefits.
- Students will forget information whether they are out of school for three weeks or 10.
- Teachers will be performing four beginning of the year reviews instead of just one.
- Summer programs such as camps suffer – experiences that children can benefit from.
- Daycare may be difficult to find.
- Student summer employment will be difficult.
- Many schools are older and do not have air conditioning.
- If the entire school district does not go year round, parents could have students at different schools on different schedules.
- With multi-tracking, parents could have students at the same school on different schedules.