Saturday, May 14, 2011

Year-Round Schooling.

I'm trying to be unconvinced that year-round schooling is the way to go. After all, familiarity and ruts are comfortable.

From what I'm reading the pros are plentiful. The article recently on is supportive but in the "we're way behind the rest of the world" way. While that is true, it doesn't seem to resonate with folks in the States. I don't know why, but it doesn't. At least not with the school boards. And not in Virginia. So what do I see as the reasons we should switch?
*Eliminate the summer brain drain. In our house, I basically switch to homeschooling during the summer. The kids do math, they practice their instruments, they read daily, just like during the school year. But just like the kids get grumpy as the school year progresses, so do they get grumpy as the summer progresses. Too much of any good thing isn't good.
*The school year would be roughly the same length, maybe a couple weeks longer. Nothing wrong with that in my book.
*Less burnout from both the teachers and the students. It might seem the opposite is true, but is it? Year-round schooling isn't about being at school 9-5 every weekday for 12 months. What I've seen is it's what... 6 weeks in class, 2 weeks off, with only slightly longer breaks over Christmas and summer? So for every unit or two, the kids get a break to absorb it all, and teachers get a break to plan the next units rather than doing them on top of each other.
*The break time would be perfect for hands-on, no homework, short-term, real world "camps" using what they just studied in school. Working on explorers? Have explorer camps at regional historic districts. Struggling through chemistry? Get a pharmacist to show kids chemistry in the real world. Offer up mini-internships to high schoolers with notable local resources. Model U.N. would have a perfect slot without taking up class time.
*Ease up on single parent families. I cannot imagine the financial drain and the difficulty of finding childcare for 2 1/2 months in one fell swoop.
What other pros are there? I'm listening.
So what are the cons, ignoring the one that is simply "But this is the way it's always been done and change is hard." What are the reasons, aside from logistical, to continue the way we are?
And while we're at it, let's switch the school day around... have elementary start before 8, middle start around 8:30, and high school start at 9. Instead of going with business reasons for having high schoolers be the first ones out to go to jobs, let's follow the natural course of things and the best learning times each group of kids. How many of us have little kids who are up way before their high schoolers, even though they go to school hours after (yeah, that's us)? Let's have the high schoolers start school later so there's less "hanging around unsupervised time" after. Let's do high school sports in the morning... the kids who are devoted to their sports will do it anyway, just ask the swim team.
One more thing, and I know this wouldn't be popular with anyone but the kids, let's allow middle schoolers and high schoolers "recess" again. Actually outside. Even tough 16 year olds can use a little sunshine and fresh air in the middle of the day. I'd be OK with extending their school day by 30 minutes if it meant that they'd have a break or two in their day.
Who's with me?