At the risk of being thrown out of town by hordes of angry villagers and their children, I ask this question: do our kids really need 12 weeks of summer vacation?
This week marks the end of summer activities for my children. This is as far as my household budget will stretch. There are still three more weeks of summer vacation for my kids, though. So between my husband and myself, we’ll have to take turns using our paid-time-off days from work to stay home with the children. We certainly can’t each take three weeks off and jet off to wherever for the rest of the summer. We’ve already taken a week to visit the grandparents in June.
This year in our school district, our children received 11 weeks of summer vacation, and that was because they had an additional week of school in June, caused by snow days. My nieces in the southern part of the US will have had 12 weeks by the time the new school year begins in August. At one time a few years ago, other family members in south Florida ended school in the middle of May to return in August. Fourteen weeks!
In the very distant past, a long summer vacation was an integral part to an agrarian society. More hands are always needed to help out on farms. These days, though, I don’t see the point of three months of absence from school.
It has been widely reported that many students suffer from “summer slide” in the first weeks after the new school year starts. The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) reports that during the summer children do forget a significant amount of material previously learned in school, losing as much as two grade levels of Math skills. Teachers in our school district have also reported having to spend the first three to four weeks at the start of the school year revising material taught in the previous year.
The very cost of keeping children occupied and active during the summer is also quite daunting. Our town holds several summer programs for children up to middle school age. The least expensive program, which my 7 year old attends, costs $300 per week for full days. There are varied weekly activities such as visiting the zoo or having special themed days. Other more adventurous programs start at $400 per week, depending on the child’s age. Multiply that by 12 weeks and if you have more than one child, you could easily be spending a whopping $10k to have 2 children entertained for the entire summer. And if you want your child to participate in swimming, tennis, baseball or other sports programs for the summer you may as well consider taking out a loan from your 401(k) just for some summer fun.
Could we not have one extra week during winter vacation and only four weeks for summer vacation? I know that teachers need the break from the classroom as well, but surely four weeks should be adequate for all? As a child I was always excited to go on summer holidays, but by August I would be desperately bored.
I’d love to know what other parents and educators think about this. Are there any benefits to being out of the classroom for so long?