I mentioned the words “year-round school schedule” to my daughter’s teacher and she turned white, then red and began sputtering at me that she did not want to lose her summer vacation. While I appreciate that she enjoys her time away from her students each summer, I sincerely hope that was not the primary motivation when she decided to become a teacher. There is much controversy today about adjusting the school calendar to eliminate a long summer vacation. While there appear to be valid arguments on both sides of the playground, I fall on the side that is slightly less popular at the moment. There is a very good reason I favor year round school and, yes, it is because of my daughter.
My daughter is dyslexic and has mild learning disabilities. She struggles to remain at grade level and suffers from three weeks Christmas vacation each year not to mention the long summer break. Many opponents of a year-round school schedule argue this is my problem and they, and their children, should not be penalized for a small number of children who would benefit from attending school year round. We are fortunate and blessed in having the ability to place our daughter in a very small, private school that understands and assists us with her learning problems by giving us extra work to do during breaks and helping us find affordable tutors during the summer. However, there are many children whose families cannot afford this extra help and they are the ones suffering and falling behind.
According to the Year-Round Education Program Guide, the California Department of Education recognizes that “students with learning disadvantages may receive academic benefits” from year-round school programs because of the loss of retention during long breaks is minimized. Furthermore, instead of waiting until the end of the school year to help students who are performing below average or failing (summer school), remediation can occur in sequence during the more frequent breaks. This benefits not only students with learning disabilities but also students who may be above average but need extra help with certain subjects or areas of study. No matter what the other pros or cons of year-round school calendars may be, the fact is that children retain information better with continued, consistent education.
To those who still argue that it is the parents responsibility to hire tutors or do extra work during breaks, I have one last argument. I am not a teacher, I am not trained as a teacher and I probably do more harm than good at times trying to teach my daughter myself. Furthermore, it is not just the issue of doing extra work it is the issue of putting education a higher priority again in this country and realizing that all children, above and below average, would benefit from a year-round school schedule while still having time to enjoy being a child.
California Department of Education