By: Marcus Lund
I love summer break, and I’m sure you do too. However, is it really as useful as it used to be?
Breaks from schooling are mandatory to both educators and students. It’s the school year’s current format, with one long break in the middle of the year, that is under scrutiny. Summer break was originally started to allow kids to return home during the hottest months to help on the farm. However, with rapid urbanization, and a much lower population farming by hand, this has become increasingly unnecessary.
An increasingly popular alternative to summer break, is a system with more frequent, shorter breaks spread out throughout the year, as opposed to one long one.
So, what are the current pros and cons for this sweet, sweet yearly hiatus?
One pro is how easy it is to cut out meaningful family time during summer break. With more spread out, shorter breaks, a detriment to family structure would occur. Things like finding childcare would become more difficult with parents having to look for babysitters year round.
Spread out breaks would also cause less break overlap between different schools and workplaces, so that families spread out over many occupations and schools would be further separated.
Summer breaks also provide outside-of-school learning opportunities, such as travel and summer camps, that help with character building.
Finally, traditional summer breaks offer a light at the end of the tunnel. Burnt out teachers can have negative effects on students, and vice-versa.
However, the new system has its positives, too. Eliminating a long term break would bring about improved academic achievement. 3 months away from school frequently causes huge gaps in memory and learning, a problem that could be soundly remedied by giving students less lengthy breaks from schooling. This loss of learning affects all children, but it varies by learning level and age.
Summer break can also lead to a lack of engagement, with students frequently getting bored. One expert, Carol Lloyd, says, “If American summer isn’t structured, it’s almost too long.”
I know I want to keep my summer break, but the question is, should I?