School’s Out for Summer

140619 Summer-01By Katie Rediger

My summer days are no longer filled with ice cream, swimming, firefly catching, bike riding or (my least favorite) book report writing.

I remember summer vacation with such joy. It was a well-deserved reward for nine months of hard work, while allowing me to explore and grow. And when my vacation was over, I had an opportunity to begin anew and refreshed.

When I became a teacher, I coveted summer vacation just as much. It was a chance to reenergize, refocus, celebrate successes and reflect on challenges. However, for many teachers, the summer is also a source of concern. Will students remember everything they were taught? Will they stay engaged with their studies over the summer? Will they enter the next grade excited, prepared and empowered?

As you know, the traditional school year calendar includes approximately three months of summer vacation. But for many of today’s students, the school calendar has changed, with over 2 million students attending school year-round. The hope is to avoid the “summer slide,” which is the idea that knowledge is lost when students spend too much time away from the classroom.

While research on the benefits of year-round schooling is inconclusive, several studies have shown that at-risk students tend to do better in year-round programs.

Admittedly, although I have unpleasant memories re-teaching second grade curricula to my third grade students, I cannot imagine foregoing my childhood summer adventures. Unfortunately, for many students, summer break is anything but idyllic. For this reason, I think it is essential to give children access to educational opportunities over the summer, as well as provide them with healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.

Whether you support the traditional school calendar or believe students are more successful in year-round programs, we can all agree that summer is a time to have fun, to learn, to explore and to grow. And it is our responsibility to provide children with a safe and healthy place to do so.

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