Nearly 86 percent of schools in the United States follow a traditional calendar consisting of a 180 day school year with a long 12 week break during the summer. The original purpose of a long summer break was so kids could help their parents harvest crops, an outdated consideration which is causing more schools to switch to a balanced calendar.
A balanced calendar takes the traditional 180 days of schools and spreads them out throughout the entire calendar year. Instead of a long summer break of 12 weeks, students typically receive a one to two week break every six to eight weeks.
When schools follow a traditional calendar, many students experience what is referred to as “summer brain drain.” On average, teachers spend six to eight weeks re-teaching information at the beginning of each school year.
When students go to school year round, they can retain information better and teachers often spend less time re-teaching after a short break. Research shows that students that attend school year-round have improved retention, better test scores and higher attendance rates.
There are also some challenges associated with a balanced calendar, however these challenges are typically experienced by districts that have schools following different schedules. Transportation and heating/cooling costs increase when two schools within a district aren’t on break at the same time. Parent’s also state that finding childcare can be a challenge when schools within a district aren’t on the same schedule.
The future of education seems to be shifting more and more towards a balanced calendar and continued learning throughout the entire year. As district-wide change occurs and families get past the culture shock of year-long education, challenges should dissipate allowing students to reap the benefits of a balanced school year calendar.
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