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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Extending the school year?

Extending the school year?

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I am a third grade teacher in Eastern Montana and am wondering what the feelings out there from other educators on extending the school year? I would love to hear what others are thinking, I know there are pros and cons on the issue, but I have to say I am not really for it. I do believe we have been pushing our kids to the limit as it is, kids need more time to be kids and use imagination and creativity- as I see public schools are losing that. We expect so much of our kids, I think it would be great for the educators, as most of think there aren't enough hours in a day to get the things we need to get taught or accomplished. However, I think it would be very hard on the students we teach. I know in our community the high school is seeing higher drop out rates than ever before. With that being said, I think it will only become a larger problem. I have three kids of my own and feel as if we don't get enough time at home as it is. As an educator I also think teachers need that down time from teaching. I use my "down time" in the summer to go back school, keep up with the current trends in education, and work on my personal teaching assignment. (Working in my classroom...) I invite discussion on this topic, I would love to hear from all- those that are for it and against. Trish

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Anthony Richter's picture

I would like to think that a longer school year would work out but with some type of give and take. I think that the school day should be shorter and the school week shorter, so that they school year can be extended. I think that as educators the more relaxed we are the better we can teach. I also think that the more relaxed and focused students are the better they can learn.

J D Nick Yinger's picture
J D Nick Yinger
AP Chemistry, General Chemistry, Physical Science

[quote]I feel students would be missing out on summer camps and activities outside of school if there was not a summer break.quote]

I did not consider the fact about tourism in the summer. That is true that a lot of camps and such would be out of work if we universally switched to a year round schedule.

kimberly's picture
kimberly
2nd grade

This is a topic that is definitely up for debate. I personally feel that children are no longer given the opportunity to be a child. What happened to learning through play? Don't children learn through leisure time just as much as labor time? I think that they probably attain more through the summer because they are relaxed and not pressured to perform under circumstances. Of course there needs to be supervision from parents. They need to make the time off fun and exciting and still incorporate learning. Year round school seems to be away to benefit the school and the testing scores they hope to exhibit. It is really not for the sake of the children.
My niece and nephew attended "year round" for only one year. The system realized the expense that goes into it and the lack of performance the children had during this time of the year.
I know that we want the children to acquire skills that will better them in the future, but we need to focus more on the fact that they are children. Once they are grown we will never get that opportunity to see them playing and enjoying the freedom of being in their youth.

Charlotte B.'s picture

My understanding of an extended school years is to start in July with a a pattern of 9 weeks on - 3 weeks off and only a 6 week summer break. I would love it. I think most students would too. After nine weeks of school students are ready for a break. After a week away from friends, they would be excited about coming back. The extended school year is more of an issue for the working parents than for teachers or students. Parents would need to find child care for the 3 weeks out.

cody's picture

For me looking at the situation for the school district that I work at presently, lengthening or altering the school schedule would not be in the best interests of the community. The local setting is made up by a majority of agriculture families that need the labour of their offspring for the duration of the summer. Simple reasoning for the function of the society that I exist in, I would be opposed to changing the school year's schedule.

Angela's picture

I agree with Brigitte and feel that year round school is the best way to go for our children.Children are having to test more and more now than ever. That break in between that they get gives them a chance to recharge and refocus on school after their small break. The weekly break is just enough time for them so that they don't forget every thing that was taught to them. My son is in third grade and he is at a school that is year round. Their schedule is set up so that the student is in school for six weeks and then is off for one week. I notice that when he goes back to school he is refreshed and is ready to learn. I have heard from teachers that the student seems to come back with a better attitude and the teachers don't get burned out as fast.I am all for year round school and feel that it is benificial for students, teachers and families.

Jean's picture

I enjoyed reading the comments above. Differences of opinion sometimes lie with individual circumstances. Extensive breaks and vacations are not important to my family and me. We are concerned about our children's future. Look at the economy. It is a disaster! Our kids need to be armed with knowledge and resourcefulness for their futures. I can say due to our financial situation, (unemployed teacher and offshored career for husband) we are not in the position to send our kids to educational camps during the summer or long breaks and run off and have vacations. We are not the only folks too, I know. Instead, for this summer for example, we had Family Camp. I kept my children busy for an hour and a half almost every day doing "academic gymnastics". They got up early, ate, dressed, and prepared for our daily routine. Just in eight short weeks, I witnessed remarkable progress. I did this to keep their minds busy and away from TV and computer games and long hours of boredom. I think breaks are great, but do they have to be so long? I think why waste time and potential brain growth? Sure, they had time to do kid stuff, which I am all for, including going to the beach, pool, friends, etc, but at least they did not lose their skills. Of a matter of fact, they sharpened their skills and recently went back to school with their language arts and math concepts more solidified,--plus some. They were also mentally prepared for the schedule and in the frame of mind to learn. I think typically during the school year, students have to complete numerous worksheets with not enough exploration, particularly in the sciences, which tends to be left as an afternoon subject. Are we going to not take the sciences seriously and let the Asian countries take potential jobs away from our children in the future? Believe me. We are seeing it already. Thousands of scientific jobs have been offshored. What are our kids going to do for a living? No offense, but flip burgers?
Teachers are pressed with schedules, holidays, themes, conflicts and interruptions, and testing in 180 days! I sympathize with them. Of course, a healthy balance of fun and projects are needed, but I think it could be spread out more. Maybe people might be less frazzled. Some parents cannot do what I was able to do this past summer. That is why I vote for a longer calendar year, perhaps with shorter hours for the summer so students can keep their skills and keep learning. We have to stop thinking and whining that kids cannot handle a little learning. They can!

Jean's picture

I enjoyed reading the comments above. Differences of opinion sometimes lie with individual circumstances. Extensive breaks and vacations are not important to my family and me. We are concerned about our children's future. Look at the economy. It is a disaster! Our kids need to be armed with knowledge and resourcefulness for their futures. I can say due to our financial situation, (unemployed teacher and offshored career for husband) we are not in the position to send our kids to educational camps during the summer or long breaks and run off and have vacations. We are not the only folks too, I know. Instead, for this summer for example, we had Family Camp. I kept my children busy for an hour and a half almost every day doing "academic gymnastics". They got up early, ate, dressed, and prepared for our daily routine. Just in eight short weeks, I witnessed remarkable progress. I did this to keep their minds busy and away from TV and computer games and long hours of boredom. I think breaks are great, but do they have to be so long? I think why waste time and potential brain growth? Sure, they had time to do kid stuff, which I am all for, including going to the beach, pool, friends, etc, but at least they did not lose their skills. Of a matter of fact, they sharpened their skills and recently went back to school with their language arts and math concepts more solidified,--plus some. They were also mentally prepared for the schedule and in the frame of mind to learn. I think typically during the school year, students have to complete numerous worksheets with not enough exploration, particularly in the sciences, which tends to be left as an afternoon subject. Are we going to not take the sciences seriously and let the Asian countries take potential jobs away from our children in the future? Believe me. We are seeing it already. Thousands of scientific jobs have been offshored. What are our kids going to do for a living? No offense, but flip burgers?
Teachers are pressed with schedules, holidays, themes, conflicts and interruptions, and testing in 180 days! I sympathize with them. Of course, a healthy balance of fun and projects are needed, but I think it could be spread out more. Maybe people might be less frazzled. Some parents cannot do what I was able to do this past summer. That is why I vote for a longer calendar year, perhaps with shorter hours for the summer so students can keep their skills and keep learning. We have to stop thinking and whining that kids cannot handle a little learning. They can!

Craig Ecker's picture

I think that year round school is coming sooner rather than later, in fact, I think our school district is looking into expanding it further. We had one school expand to it this year, and school board members are wanting to expand year round schools to the middle school level.
However, this does not mean that I am in favor of it. I think that there has been way to much pressure put on kids these days and expanding the school year is going to put even more pressure on the kids. Also, the summer time gives teachers a chance to recharge their batteries. I do believe that if we are going to go a year round school, then we need to go to the 9 weeks on, 2 weeks off with a 6 or 7 week summer vacation.

Corie's picture

Extending the school year will wear out the students and the teacher as well. Many teachers use the summer break to spend time with their children since they are in the classroom 5 days a week. Teachers also use the summer to further their education whether it be at school or inservices to stay up with the current teaching skills. I believe that if the school year is extended, many students will be burnt out by the time they get to high school and will not want to further their education to the college level. I know that there are many pros and cons to this issue, but that is what I feel about it!

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