Year round school – what do YOU think?

Posted: August 9, 2010 in Miscellaneous

There was an interesting piece in the Globe and Mail the other day that discussed some of the advantages of doing away with the traditional two month summer vacation and replacing it with a one month break and spreading the other month over the rest of the school year.

The results of four-year pilot study, obtained by The Globe and Mail, show that children who have only a one-month summer break do better in math, retain more of their lessons and need less time for review.

This study rides on the tail of a 20-year investigation in the U.S. by researchers at Johns Hopkins University that found children from low-income families fell nearly three grade levels behind their higher-income peers.

The culprit? Summer vacation. The learning advantages families can offer their children during non-school months – like lessons, camp and parents who can afford to stay home with their children – are often only available to an elite few from high-income homes.

This resonates for me in some ways. It makes some sense to shorten the length of time passed between one grade and another. I remember as a child sitting in class for the first few weeks of the term going over what we had learned the year prior. Children who are fortunate to have parents who can continue the learning routine (through camps, classes and other structured activities) may not require the same review period as those whose parents simply cannot afford them these opportunities.

I can also see the current 2 month break being difficult for lower income parents to manage from a logistical point of view. Say you have no family support, are trying to juggle two or three part time jobs to make ends meet, you cannot afford daycare and you have to find 2 months of care of some kind for your children. How do you do it?

Maybe with a one month break you can rely on neighbours and a (maybe) understanding employer to make it work, but 2 months can be a long time to hobble together piecemeal child care.

What do you think? Should this be an avenue that the Ottawa Public Board should be looking at?

This is what the Calgary Board is experimenting with.


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