I can recall many years running out of the building on the last day of school and racing home to blast Alice Cooper’s song “School’s Out for Summer”. It was our anthem. Our declaration that the best summer ever was about to begin! I couldn’t wait to share those moments with my children. We have enjoyed many summer breaks over the years doing just that. But this reality was about to change. My daughters’ school calendar switching from a traditional school calendar to a year-round calendar. Were we ready for this change? How would this benefit our children’s education? Will it alter our family schedules?
The Change in Schedules
With nearly 3,000 primary through high school campuses around the United States that have transitioned to a year-round school calendar. And we were about to join the ranks. To date, year-round schooling appears to show positive results. In year-round schooling, there are smaller more frequent breaks throughout the year, as opposed to an extensive summer break at the end of the school year. Sure your kids might miss the one long break, but many have expressed that frequent shorter breaks cut the stress for teachers and students. Think about it, our brain can only handle a certain amount of information at any given time. According to Psychology Today, “we learn better with spaced practice than with massed practice”. The key part here is that we remember learned information better if we can break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks of information. That is essentially what is occurring with the year-round school calendar. Additionally, year-round schools promote continuous learning since students are not spending large amounts of time over summer break without thought-provoking stimulation.
Impact on Attendance
Having more frequent breaks also has a dramatic effect on student dropout rates. According to Politics365, “the national dropout rate is 5%, while the dropout rate for students enrolled in year-round schooling is only 2%.” This 3% difference shows a clear benefit year-round school has on keeping students in school, which in turn affects the amount of material they learn in the classroom. Our school definitely saw an increase in student attendance after switching to year-round school. The students are refreshed, rested and ready to learn after their short breaks. The teachers were also re-energized, but some missed time with their children who were not on the same school calendar.
A new challenge for our family were summer camps. The local park district, YMCA, and camps all work around the traditional school schedule, but with nearly 50% of households having both parents employed, the year-round schedule impacts the way these agencies provide child care services. And the facilities faced difficulty in finding more childcare workers or camp counselors during the new peak camp times may be a challenge since college students follow a traditional school schedule. Temporary services are ideal to find employees for this immediate need. Alternatively, parents found some savings in summer camp expenses since their children were in school during a portion of the summer months. But children also missed out on selective sports and band camps because they conflicted with their school schedule. Instead, our children took private music lessons and opted to take part in other sports clubs in neighboring communities. Our community continues to look for ways to embrace and adapt to these new change.
As a bonus, our family discovered that planning vacations became a lot easier. Due to the school breaks now being scattered throughout the year, our popular vacation spots were less crowded during our daughters’ new breaks. We were able to enjoy our time away with less stress, shorter lines, and cheaper travel rates.
All-in-all while we no longer rock out to our traditional summer anthem, we have begun to embrace these new changes in our life. Our daughters and their teachers enjoy the natural breaks in the school year, the empty beaches on our vacations, and their overall outlook on learning has improved. While we have met some hurdles, we believe the benefits of year-round school out way the traditional school calendar.