School districts throughout British Columbia predominantly run according to a traditional school calendar. There are some schools that have adopted the year round school schedule that consists of a shorter summer vacation with more frequent, shorter breaks spread throughout the year. There have been arguments for and against both schedules, but the main focus should be how to ensure that students are getting the most benefit from both of these systems.
Traditional Calendar Schools:
Originally the school year was set up so that children were released from school during the springtime for planting season and again during the autumn months so they could help their families during the harvest.
The traditional school calendar was developed in the early 1800s with the thought that children need to have a break from school in order to maintain the joy of childhood and to prevent children from being over stimulated, which could result in mental disorders. In Canada and the rest of North America, a traditional calendar for most schools has remained in place even today.
There are some people who believe that having too long of a summer vacation actually causes students to forget what they learned the previous year, resulting in students needing the first few months of the school year just to catch up to where they left off.
The Thought Behind a Year Round School Schedule:
Some school districts have implemented year-round school schedules. The thought behind year-round schooling is that the school year would be broken up by more frequent breaks. This schedule enables students to maintain a more regular schedule throughout the year with 6-9 weeks of school followed by a 2-4 week break with an extended break of 6 weeks during the summer. Students who attend year-round school still have the same amount of vacation as traditional calendar schools.
On the one hand it is important that students have the adequate time away from school to take a break, relax, enjoy the flexible hours of vacation to explore new hobbies and engage in childhood activities that create lifelong memories. On the other hand, we don’t want children to lose valuable knowledge during those long summer months.
How to bridge the learning gap between school breaks?
How can educators and parents ensure that children get the best of both worlds? Kids need their time off and they also need the proper brain stimulation that enables them to retain knowledge and be ready to learn when school is in session.
Regardless of whether your child attends a year-round school or one that operates according to the traditional school calendar, there is still the question of what to do during school breaks. Here are some suggestions for how you can make the most of your child’s school breaks and summer vacations.
Summer learning opportunities
At home summer learning opportunities include getting your kids involved in summer reading activities or creative science activities. Winter break, spring break and summer vacation can be fun and relaxing and still include educational activities.
Summer camps and summer learning programs
There are a variety of summer camps in British Columbia that are available through most school districts for children of all ages. Find a summer camp that matches your child’s interests or focuses on subject areas where your child needs extra help.
Summer tutoring sessions
Another great way to continue your child’s education during the summer months is to have regular tutoring sessions with a certified teacher tutor. This way they are ready to jump back into school when they return from their vacation. Students who struggle with math in school can work with a math tutor during school breaks in order to catch up to where they need to be.
All families are different and what works for one family may not be possible for another. Keep in mind that today’s world is full of new things just waiting to be discovered. There are always ways to turn even small things into learning opportunities. However your child spends this summer, be sure to include some activities that will contribute to your child’s ability to learn in and out of the classroom.