Monday, August 16, 2010

The First Day of School

Today is the first day of school for my local school district. Even though my kids don't go to school, it negatively effects my family. Most extra-curricular activities rotate around the school calendar. So, my summer is coming to a screeching halt. :(

Some of our homeschool friends who use a local homeschool charter program are forced to start today too.

I recently read an article in Time Magazine which suggested that summer break should be discontinued altogether. I think that is a terrible idea. It is the only taste of freedom and autonomy that most school children experience. I have such happy memories of summer vacation when I was a child.

By the way, the article justified the end of summer vacation because "when American students are competing with children around the world, who are in many cases spending four weeks longer in school each year, larking through summer is a luxury we can't afford."

My summer were filled with trips to state parks, bike rides, camping, reading, playing, building forts in the empty field behind our house, visiting grandparents, museums, library, vacation bible school, playing in the creek, hiking, and family time.

The article focuses on the educational loss experienced during the summer by poor children. While I don't doubt that is a real problem, I don't think that ruining summer for everyone else is good solution.

I'm so very glad my children do not go to school. We are heading to a local children's zoo and amusement park, and we don't expect to see any lines.


Sebastian said...

Schools have been shortening summer break for years, decades in some cases. Have academic successes followed this?
I remember summer as a time when I read tons of books, lived on a farm where a relative worked, spent long days exploring undeveloped property that we owned or even working on the property doing things like pulling stumps, explored the county fair for day after day while my parents were on duty as volunteer firefighters. I also spent early summer picking strawberries and later summer harvesting plums.
I could make the case that I learned as much or more during these vacations than while in a classroom.
I think a major push for year round school is families that don't have a stay at home parent. Where I live, parents camp out the night before summer camp sign ups, just to get spaces for their kids, who would otherwise be home alone over the summer.

Ahermitt said...

What Sebastian said is so true. The move to year-round school is a result of a change in lifestyle with two parents working full time. That kind of makes school a baby-sitting service

Janine Cate said...

Today I spent some time reading the comments on the Time Magazine article. Very few supported the end of summer vacation. It is kind of sad to think that most children maybe essentially institutionalized for their entire childhood.

Crimson Wife said...

I read an interesting statistic in Dr. Richard Nisbett's book Intelligence and How to Get It that found affluent children actually gained ground over the summer, while middle-class kid stayed constant, and poor children lost ground. The affluent kids made nearly as much gains over the 2 month summer break as the other 10 months of the year when they were in school.

To me, that speaks to the power of being in an environment that fosters learning. For affluent kids, the home environment is on average better. For poor kids, the school environment is on average better. And it is a wash on average for the middle-class kids.

That's not to say that only wealthy families can create a good home environment that fosters learning in their kids. Motivation matters more than income IMHO.

Homeschooling Peeps said...

I recently posted how we hadn't opened a textbook all summer, but we had a summer full of learning. My kiddos have attended camps, enjoyed their first extended vacation on the gulf coast, cared for baby bunnies and enjoyed countless hours running, riding bikes and playing in the warm sunshine.

Sparklee said...

I agree with Sebastian--I definitely learned more during the summers than I ever did during my enforced confinement in school!

Humans only get one childhood--it's sad to think that the most pleasant part of it will be taken away in the name of better test scores--I mean "achievement."

I always find it kind of creepy to be out after school starts and notice that there are no children anywhere. So glad my kids aren't going back this year!