Your Summer Vacation is Canceled
It is right around the corner, you can tell by the look on your kid's face.
They can smell the finish line. The calendar on the fridge says May 1st, and that means the summer countdown begins.
But not so fast mom and dad. What if I told you that summer vacation is canceled?
No three-month hiatus, no rest, relaxation or idle afternoons. Just more school work and business as usual for June, July, and August.
You may think this notion springs from a hard-hearted, kids-hating agenda. But what if a year without summer gave your child an advantage in this world?
That is the argument being made by George Abbott, the B.C Education Minister. He introduced legislation last Friday that would eliminate mandatory school calendars in their province.
The reasoning behind it is pretty straight forward: no summer break means no "summer slide", the term used to describe the loss of learning that happens when kids are sitting on the couch playing the Xbox instead of hitting the books.
About 4 years ago I remember speaking with the Canadian Council on Learning about this very idea. They estimated that kids lose up to one month's hard-earned learning during summer break.
That number nearly knocked me out of my chair! We are giving away a month of knowledge, all so we can take a road trip to Aunt Ethel's cottage?
That just doesn't seem right!
We continuously lag behind countries like South Korea and Singapore in academic rankings, and those nations are giving their kids half the time off that we do during the summer months.
Back in 2010, the results of a four-year study demonstrated that children who have had only a one-month summer break fare much better in math, retain more of their lessons, and need less time for review.
This seems like common sense to me.
Think about it: if every parent could afford to take three months off every summer and spend time reading and assigning their kids homework during the summer months, that may keep them sharp until the summer ends. But that isn't the case. In fact, the majority of parents I know can't afford that kind of time. How about you?
We have a great example of what needs to be done with our provincial education system, and that model is in our own backyard.
The Roberta Bondar Public school in Brampton has a 194 day calendar, just like every other school. However half of the two-month summer vacation time is spread throughout the year.
And guess what? They report higher test scores in math, and teachers report not having to re-teach and refresh in September, meaning they can dive right into new material.
In today's global economy, the current system is going to leave us in the dust. It is time we start having a critical conversation about re-structuring our school calendar to regain a competitive edge for our young people.
Short term pain, with long term gain. Aunt Ethel's cottage can wait.