Day 141: hamburger and "year round" school

Today’s menu: hamburger, whole wheat buns, broccoli, banana, ketchup

I’ve had this meal many times before just like most of the other lunches I’ve eaten. I was a little surprised to have broccoli again today considering I just had it yesterday, but I think it was a last minute substitution. It was in sharp contrast to the broccoli from yesterday. That broccoli was brighter in color and this poor broccoli looks like it had a hard day.

It’s mystery meat but no surprise to me!
Trashy trash

my finger snuck into the shot…
now I’m going to have to cut it off so as not to out myself
Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day so there is no school for me. I know many schools don’t cancel school for this holiday, but my district does. Then on Friday the teachers have a professional development day so it’s a non-attendance day for students yet again. I feel like there are a lot of professional development days on the calendar, especially in the first half of the school year. I feel some guilt over it because I worry the students aren’t getting a lot of academics at home. Selfishly though I like my teacher inservice days because I do learn something (not always, but most of the time) and I can get a lot of paperwork and organizing done in my room.
A reader sent me a link to an article: Year-Round School Gains Ground in US. I discussed this before on the blog, but I wanted to revisit it.
First of all, “year-round” school is a misnomer. Basically, it’s just a shorter summer. In my district there are already many schools doing it and it only means that summer vacation is just about six weeks long instead of 10-11 weeks. Those other weeks off are sprinkled throughout the year. One of my friends works that schedule and she told me she loves it. She is single, at least 25 years older than me, and travels all over the world with any spare time she has. She has always wanted to travel in the Fall, but she never could because she was working. Now she gets a two-week break in September/October and can jet off to exotic locales all four seasons.
But the change in the school calendar is being put in place not for teachers to take vacations: it’s so that students benefit from a shorter summer off. I see regression in skills come September. Many of the students I work with are not getting a chance to do much with themselves over the summer. Even with a plethora of park district programs available, my students’ families can’t afford them or if they can, they don’t have transportation. My students play too many video games at home. It’s surprising how many people have multiple gaming systems. I may never understand that as an adult, but I do remember being obsessed with my friend’s Super Mario Nintendo game in fifth grade. It’s powerful stuff and luckily for me my mom banned video gaming systems from the house. It seemed positively Draconian, but now video games at home are even more ubiquitous.
I think that another reason “year-round” schedules are powerful is that children have trouble with transitions. I also have difficulty with the dramatic transition from crazy school days in June to boring laundry at home. Alternately the build-up of my anxiety with the start of school in August is overwhelming (although I might be a special case). Regardless, if kids are in school more often, the transitions would not be as big and potentially scary.
The article mentions at the end that many ELL (English Language Learners) spend the summer months immersed in their home language and that the transition back to English can be challenging. I would say that the typical child with average abilities and literate and supportive parents can handle going back and forth in two languages. It’s the kids with special needs who are learning two languages who can’t readily slide between the two languages.
One of my coworkers is of Mexican descent and speaks perfect English and Spanish. I asked him if his parents spoke Spanish at home and he told me that they didn’t. So I followed up, “Where did you learn Spanish?” He replied, “My siblings and I spent every summer with abuela and I learned how to speak Spanish because that’s all she knew.” So shortening summer in his case would have meant that he lost out on an amazing experience with his abuela (grandma). Changing to a “year-round” school schedule is not a plain and simple decision.
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42 thoughts on “Day 141: hamburger and "year round" school

  1. I would have not liked year round school. During the summer I normally left home a few days after school stopped and returned a few days before it started and was only home a couple times during the summer. I traveled around the world with my church and with a choir and praise band I was in. The summer was when we did mission work and that was about it. We would raise money all school year so our parents never paid a penny. People always ask me would I rather have gone to the beach with friends and I will always say no. Those were the best times of my life and made me the women I am today.

  2. I've been a loyal reader of this blog, but have yet to comment on a post. The topic of "year-round" school, however, is one about which I am very passionate. While a schedule with shorter summer breaks might be beneficial to the poor, who lack stimulation and enrichment at home, it is very detrimental to the middle and upper classes. Since I was born, my family has taken monthlong vacations to our beach house in New England every summer (my mother is a teacher, and my father is a business owner, so they can easily take a few months off). During the other half of the summer, my sister and I were able to go to church camp, Girl Scout camp, VBS, summer school/enrichment programs, and volunteer in the community. We were also typically busy preparing for the big annual dance recital, and had rehearsal/class several hours per day. We never played video games or watched television; instead, we went to the bookstore and each selected a thick stack of summer reading.

    Even the poorest families can visit the public library (many of which have summer reading programs which reward kids for reading) or go to the used bookstore and trade in old video games for intellectually stimulating books. During "downtime", they can explore museums, attend free outdoor concerts, and partake of other culturally enriching activities.

    A "year-round" schedule does, initially, seem beneficial for lower-class students, but it seems like no one considers how disastrous it would be for wealthier families. It is important to keep in mind everyone who would be affected by such a change.

    Note: I am a freshman in the honors college at a large university, and received a full scholarship. I am a National Merit Scholar and graduated high school with a 4.7 grade point average. I, not to mention most of my classmates, flourished in a school district with a traditional schedule. My mom is a teacher, and I fully support public schools and understand that not everyone is as blessed as I am.

  3. In the UK "year round" school is the norm – only we never thought of it as "year round" of course – a six week vacation feels like forever when you're a child.
    Getting used to the mammoth 12 week summer vacation here has been a real culture shock (I moved to the US 7 years ago and my kids were born here). Our school district is thinking of making the change, and I really hope they do: speaking as a parent, twelve weeks feels like a terribly long time if you're at home with the kids, and I can quite see how many children must lose a lot of ground over that time. I also miss the fact that it's impossible for a family to take anything more than a few days' vacation other than in the summer. In the UK there is a six week vacation in the summer and two or three weeks at Christmas and Easter: and somewhere between each of those longer vacations there will be a short "half term" break of a week. The "half terms" especially give families the chance to travel during off-peak seasons (different schools will time these breaks differently) which is a real bonus, and the regular vacations give everyone a chance for a rest without being so long that accademic ground is lost, children get bored, and parents go crazy.

  4. Anonymous and Katie Liz — Wouldn't it be great if kids could somehow opt-in or opt-out of summer classes? That makes sense to me. Frankly, I don't think attendance is *that* important to certain economic groups. I never had perfect attendance as a kid. I envision myself taking my son out of school for little trips during the school year or even a day off here and there just to spend time together. Thanks for your opinions!

  5. I thought that was called modified traditional? I've actually had real year round, and we had two week breaks 4 times a year. Maybe it was 5… I was a kid, whatta I know. 🙂 Modified traditional is when there is a shortened summer (this is what , and slightly different break formations through the school year. THAT, as a parent, I love- my kids like it too. But true year round? I hated it as a kid, and as a parent, I can't see liking it much either. I love breaks with my kids. By the end of 2 months- about the length of their summer break- they are ready for school, but we love our 2 months. My kids go to a charter school though, so it is different anyway.

    But true your round…. yick!

    My two cents. 🙂

  6. I work in District 75 of NYC, the specialized special education district, and most of our students have a 12-month school year on their IEPs. It's highly recommended that they come, both because of regression of skills and the transition troubles they have (even during the day!), but they don't have to. 75% of my students attended last year (9 out of a 12:1:1 class), and they were mostly lower class. It was a free 6-week summer program. Everyone really enjoyed it; the days were shorter by 20 minutes, we went swimming on Fridays, we did a special summer math and reading program, and I got to know my kids better. I was also able to carry over the behavioral program and routines they'd learned through the year.

    This is only for students with IEPs with a 12-month school year listed on the IEP, however; other students do not have this option unless they need remedial schooling. This also isn't a year-round school, technically; it's an extra program and we get paid extra. Still, it's invaluable for the special education population.

  7. "Year-round" school sounds great to me. In my case, I was shy and lived in a pretty isolated spot, so a shorter summer break would've helped me keep more stable friendships, on top of all the other benefits you listed.

    I've never understood why video games get such a bad rap, while reading is generally considered worthwhile. Growing up, I spent a lot of time reading and a lot of time playing video games. I have fond memories of both, and I think both had a positive influence on me. The best books can teach grammar, vocabulary, symbolism, imagination, and creativity, and the best video games can teach fine motor skills, patience, problem solving, teamwork, and ethics. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with video games, but I can imagine that a lack of supervision, role models, or alternate experiences could cause problems no matter how many video game systems are available in the home.

  8. Katie Liz:

    While I, too, did very well academically in a traditional schedule, I think it's a bit…hmm…overdramatic to say that a shorter summer break would be "disastrous for the middle and upper classes". Research has shown that regression in skills over the summer happens in all socio-economic statuses, including the wealthy. (Albeit to less of a degree.) And most of the things you list as things you did instead of school during the summer are also things that can be done concurrently with school – for instance, volunteering, enrichment programs, and religious programs. A 6 week break instead of a 12 week break would also accommodate summer vacations and camps and travel as well.

    Again, I don't disagree that there are a lot of things that many families do for their children that's beneficial during the summer, and it's a topic worth debating, but "disastrous" and "detrimental" shouldn't be used to describe a more lengthy school schedule, particularly when such a term is the norm in many places around the world with significantly stronger academic performance rates than the US.

  9. I think "year-round" school would be a good idea, but it would cost too much to be practical in many parts of the country. I live in New England. I've never been in a public elementary school that had air conditioning – the ones with a/c just in the nurse's office, main office, and library are the good ones. it's hard to get much done even in june, when temperatures are high. i've seen kids feeling sick during heat waves because they're so hot, and i remember suffering through it myself as a student. at least if you're at home and you don't have air conditioning, you can go somewhere else. you can go to the first floor. you can go outside. you can plop yourself in front of a fan with a tall glass of ice water. when you've got a whole bunch of kids cooped up in a room with only a fan or two and inadequate access to water/other ways to cool down, the temperatures are going to rise fast and stay there. if it's in the upper 80's or low 90's outside, that second or third floor classroom is going to be pushing 100. there's a reason cities set up cooling stations during heat waves: staying in excessive heat is dangerous to your health. if we're going to extend school into the summer, and we want kids to be productive and safe, we'd need to invest a lot more in facilities than current budgets could ever dream of. as the buildings are now, I think extending the school year would put a lot of kids at risk for heat stroke.

  10. I "homeschooled" my kids every single summer because I knew that they would lose a portion of what they learned during the school year. I'm an exception to what most parents are prepared to do. Many families have both parents working and the kids are on their own or with caregivers who may not be passionate about learning or family members who don't speak English or know how to read. The "average" kid loses 11% of what they learned during our current summer vacations. That means that teachers have to spend at least the first month of school reteaching what was lost. Wouldn't it be nice if they didn't have to do that? More consistent learning would benefit everyone. There would still be plenty of time for family vacations, summer camps and such.

    At a time when test scores are struggling to catch up to the rest of the world, our education system needs to step up to the plate and do something to even the playing field for our students. Having more consistent time in the classroom is just one way we can do that.

    I'm very passionate about education. There are many wonderful teachers who really try to do the best for our kids but have their hands tied by so much red tape. Our education system needs to change.

    Mrs. Q, sorry you had to eat that sad looking lunch.

  11. There may also be something to be said for " the teacher's summer" After years of teaching preschool~ I so look forward to a regrouping period. A chance to look at my practice in depth without the beat of school. A chance for me to have "adventures". These experiences make me a better storyteller, a keener listener, and better educator. I'd hate to think I'd have to put the brakes on my sandcastle building. So you are right changing to year round school just isn't a plain and simple decision. I would hope for all ages we could look at the value in uninterrupted time "playing" in the outdoors where children can feel sea breeze, warm sand, sprinkler spray, bonfires, and my fav childhood summer event making mud pies.

    thank you for your posts!!!

  12. That broccoli isn't even recognizable!
    I live in West Virginia, and last winter I had a teacher who brought up the fact that our school calendar is still based on the farmer's calendar. It was hard to get up and get going when there was a foot or more of snow on the ground. Year-round school (or something like it) would have helped in that case–the kids ended up missing 20-some days out of the month anyway. There would still be plenty of time to take vacations in the summer, too.

  13. Your lunch looks a lot like the one my Little had when I visited her this past Tuesday. I was shocked to see a prepackaged hamburger, but then, nearly every damn thing in my Little's school lunch program is prepackaged. Even fruit is usually cut up and prepackaged.

    I'd be curious to see the effect of that much plastic in kids' lunches when they're being heated. Hormone mimickers? Endocrine disruptors? Ew.

  14. It's interesting you mentioned that the students cannot afford transportation for city activities, yet they have multiple gaming systems. This shows that it's not a monetary issue so much as parents' choices. They still shoulder the main responsibility for ensuring their children's development.

  15. I commented on this when it was brought up earlier in the year. My opinion has not changed. I think people fail to realize sometimes how many children there are whose parents are divorced and don't live in the same area. I love summer because I get to have my daughter for half of the summer-so 6 weeks. The rest of the year is the standard every other weekend and alternating holidays and spring break. I believe that if you make the decision to have children you should make sure that you have them read and do educational things during summer. Even if you both work-then you get a good daycare provider-or if their older let them know your expectations.

  16. I think year round school would be a great idea, unless you had to provide sporadic child care for your child.

    That being said, let me tell you a dirty little secret: We have 3 gaming systems, a lap top, a PC and multiple TV's (two are even in my kids' rooms). It is not the technology that is detrimental to the student, it is the lack of parental control and/or supervision. My sister is an RN and grant writer for a clinic that serves the underinsured and uninsured. She has obese kids that come in that admit to eating a whole bag of chips, in front of the TV, while they wait at home for thier mom or dad. Alone, at home and in an area where they cannot go out an play on their own. This is a problem. Not entirely the parent's faults, but a problem none the less. We limit the amount of technological game play and ensure our children see the sunshine, play outside and visit the library regualarly, among other activities that keep their bodies and minds going. My kids regress very little during the summer because we have "school" for one hour each day at home. I know we are not the norm and I would happily agree to year round school and even longer school days to ensure all children learn and grow up to be successful adults.

  17. I already have issues with how long the school year is and the length of school days (elementary). If they lengthen the school year I am going to have to give more consideration to how we could home school.

    We already work opposite schedules so someone is always home no matter what. We share a car to reduce our expenses which means any "enrichment acitivities" have to be within walking distance so we live in town. We still find plenty to do and when there isn't an enrichment activity we make our own.

    My son has hand-me-down video gaming systems and maybe plays them for 10 hours A YEAR. He just has no interest. He'd rather be moving and doing, exploring or reading.

    We aren't rich or probably not even middle class. We just make different choices.

    If some people choose to do nothing with their summer break, the people who use that time to do things they couldn't do during the school year (trips, long projects, camps, etc.) shouldn't be penalized. And I would have a hard time thinking of it as something other than a penalty so I know I'd have a hard time convincing my son it was "opportunity". LOL

  18. My concern over year round school is that when my kids are finally old enough to be in school full time, what will I do for child care during that week or two weeks that are sprinkled throughout the year? I work full time and by having them off for the summer I can find a summer program or something, or hire someone for the summer months. But with a two week break, what will my children do? When they are 9 and 7 they will be too young to stay home by themselves!! And how will I find two weeks of daycare? My job does offer me a great vacation policy, but it would not cover all the time off. My husband is a freelancer and does not get vacation days.

    And if that is my situration, imagine what will happen to children whose parents work two jobs, or struggle to find care in the summer time? I could afford alternate child care if it were available, but what about the people who couldn't? What would they do in those two week breaks? I am not against year round school for the children and their learning. But the school would have to consider some of the issues of working parents before heading into a program like that.

  19. It seems like people who are concerned about kids not having the opportunity to travel, or read, or spend time with friends and family in other places, or go on church trips, or go to camps and vacation bible school, are not viewing the reality of "year-round school". No one is saying that kids would be going to school 52 weeks out of the year, it is saying that by shortening breaks to 2-4 weeks and spreading them out throughout the year so that kids are not losing as much of their knowledge in that loooong 2-3 month break in the summer. Guess what – if the U.S. transitioned to a year round schedule, camps could alter the times they were offered to fit in that time. You can still travel and go stay with grandma and grandpa (or at your beach house in Martha's Vineyard 😉 for 2-4 weeks, you can still go on mission trips and it wouldn't all have to be from June-August (the hottest time of the year!). It's not like offerings for kids that happen now during summer break wouldn't shift to be offered during these new break times. I have to say, I personally used to get really bored over the very long summer. The first month was always awesome, the second month I tried to fill it with activities and camp, and by August I really just wanted to get back to school to see my friends and be busy again. So in reality, the kids would have the same AMOUNT of school as they have now, the scheduling would just be different, and everything else that revolves around entertaining kids when they are out of school I imagine would shift pretty easily too.

  20. My kids are in a "year round" school system in NC and we love it. They go for 9 weeks and then have 3 weeks off for each quarter. They have "track out" camps available to them for their weeks off so its no inconvience for the parents at all. You can take vacations at off times or you can just enjoy the time off at home. Summers are better because when we were in traditional school by August the kids were soooo bored and ready to head back to school. Now we have 5 weeks off and then back to school. It also works better for my kids because one has anxiety so less time off makes transition better and the other has ADD so the routine is so much better for her. The only problem I have come across is once the kids hit middle and high school if you don't opt for a year round middle then you may have kids on 2 different schedules (my older one is in a year round MS). There are no year round HSs in our area so the schedules will definitely change then.

  21. As other readers have said, I think it's kind of silly to worry about things like daycare for the weeks off –daycare camps are set up to accommodate the school schedule, not the other way around.

    I also agree that it's silly to think that rich kids would miss out on enrichment opportunities just because their breaks were spread out over the year –you can't do mission work over a couple of weeks, rather than 12 weeks?

    If we want our society to thrive, we need to worry about the population segment that can't afford enrichment camps, or perhaps don't even understand their value, because they're so busy trying to make ends meet with several minimum wage jobs.

    Public education should be biased toward those who need it the most, or our whole society will pay in the end.

  22. Personally I am all for "year-round" school. The NC schedule seems to make a lot of sense. This has been touched on, but I would like to emphasize again how difficult it can be for two working parents to find a safe, educational place for their children for 10-12 weeks straight. It's wonderful if money isn't an issue for your family, but we are strapped enough as it is, and having to find 10-12 weeks of camps or daycare or other programs that are fun AND educational and not expensive is like another full-time job except I pay THEM. We could work something out for 2 or 3 weeks at a time throughout the year, but 3 solid months is hard to fill when both parents work full time, and I would put us squarely in the middle class.

  23. Personally I have never been in an elementary school (when I was in school which wasn't that many years ago not even junior high or the high school was) that had air conditioning. A teacher was lucky to get a classroom with windows that even opened. Sitting in that heat every day for a child (even adults) is disastrous, especially since many many classrooms won't even allow a student to have a bottle of water. The teachers will start having to deal with health problems just from this: dehydration, heat stroke, etc. Is this really going to help children learn?

    The money it would cost to upgrade every school would easily hit millions per state (I won't even get into all the energy waste to have to run the air conditioning). With that much money being spent there will be more teachers being laid off, more crowded classrooms, even less nutritious food being served for lunch, etc.

    There are so many opportunities that would be lost to children in the summer: camps, visiting family that lives far away, summer jobs, etc. What happens to the students who take summer school to pass their grade? The time to do this has also disappeared. There are also parents that are divorced and sometimes one parent only really gets time to spend with their children is in the summers – this severely limits the time spent with each parent.

    In my honest opinion, the only reason children lose everything that is taught is books are all rented any more and they can't have them over the summer for the parents to try to get them to review a little at least every other day or something. Plus there are the parents who are just too lazy to do the work.

  24. this is a very interesting discussion- and i am glad for Sarah W.'s input in particular.

    -as a kid i always loved the summer holidays and was never one to long to go back to school because of being bored. i didn't feel school anxiety in August either, just excitement to go shopping for new pens and notebooks!! 😉

    -we did the occasionnal family trip during the summer, but otherwise my sisters and i stayed home all summer- so we would play in the streets or park with neighbour kids, go to the library and borrow 10 books every few days, play a LOT of computer games, build a tent in the backyard and sleep in it, fiddle on the piano, play many board games as a family….so much fun!

    -i agree with the one who said that video games get the bad rap while reading gets all the good press. they are both beneficial to a child, perhaps video gaming in moderation, but still!! i used to spend hours on the computer and game-boy, playing games until late at night during the summer holidays…and it didn't prevent me from becoming a good reader and to do well academically!

    -as someone else commented, public libraries usually hold a lot of activities during the summer (it may depend on the district, but usually at least once a week?) so that those who are of poor families could be involved in free activities anyways- and those activities are meant to maintain the children's academic skills until they go back to school! that's the sole purpose of "summer reading clubs" there are programs out there for those who are worried that their children might lose everything they learned.

    -i do remember, though, having to also work on math and reading textbooks during the summer (my mom always bought those end of June, and tried to make us fill a page per week!) and i never really enjoyed doing them- but now i am glad my mom insisted on us doing that.

    Anyways that's my 2 cents' worth. In other words, I would leave the summer holidays as they are…yes it's hotter, yes it may be more expensive to travel than other holiday periods, but…I've found it works great for a lot of families- not just mine!

  25. @Tina-

    Were your parents divorced? Do you have kids? Maybe if you were in my situation you would understand that having weeks with my child in the summer to get closer is better than just having them once and awhile during the school year. I wish that there were others out there that would speak about when you are divorced.

  26. @Tina-

    Where your parents divorced? Did you ever have kids? I look forward to summers because I have my daughter for 6 weeks and that is better because we become even closer during the summers because we have so much time together. I have her read and do work books and practice math cards to ensure that she is retaining info. I wish others would comment about how it is when parents are divorced and how it is VERY important for them to spend ample time with their child.

  27. I agree with Tina. Dividing the 12 weeks of vacation into a 6 week block and several 2 week blocks does nothing to prevent the wealthy from taking trips. If anything, it provides opportunities to travel at different times of year and experience different cultural activities (i.e. the events that don't happen to fall in June/July/August). The big 6 week block is still plenty long enough for summer school or swimming lessons or a mission or what-have-you. The "loss" by the middle-class-to-wealthy students would be minimal compared to the gains by everyone.

  28. I spent much of my summers at camps or on long visits with family – and later traveling. I like the idea of year round school – as long as it's universal. The problem with this country is that every city, town, district, makes their own rules – which makes planning (whether it's camp or with a divorced parent) difficult. The current 'standard' is easier because it's nearly universal. I enjoyed my summer activities (which always included some enrichment) and want the same for my child.

  29. I'm sure I must have asked this before, but what's with the Spork?! At what age are school children in the US allowed to use real cutlery?

    How on earth can they be expected to learn how to use a knife and fork if so many of their meals are eaten without them?

    It's beyond me… 🙁

  30. I spent my entire elementary school career in a true year-round school with four different tracks (back in the 80s in Southern California). The reason we did this? Because of overcrowding. (I'm kind of surprised that this hasn't come up as a reason to go to a year-round schedule.) We didn't have enough room for all of the students who needed to attend our school district. So instead of overpopulating the class, they always had three tracks on and one track off. Parents could choose which track you were on–two were able to have extra time in the summer off and two were able to have extra time in the winter off. Our total vacation time was the same as kids on traditional schedules, but it was spread out. I liked it and I don't ever remember my parents, who both worked, complain about finding childcare in the off season. We always went on vacation and were involved in things in the summer, and I don't ever remember feeling overwhelmed by trying to fit everything in. In fact, I was kind of disappointed when I had to go to a traditional schedule because the school year can get so long without those little breaks.

  31. @ Tina

    I agree with you too. What does it matter if someone wants to spend extra time with their child in the summer. That is there issue that their spouse cheated on them and took all the money so they couldn't get a lawyer so now they do not have the child.

  32. Not sure why anonymous took my comment so personally. My parents were divorced, not that it has anything to do with anything, and I spent less time with my dad than that, but no school schedule would have made him care more so oh well. I still think a year round school schedule allows for MORE opportunities that are currently done during the summer, just spending the same amount of weeks on break spread out more evenly over the whole year. It also seems like having year round school would hopefully make summer school less needed, but tutoring could still be offered during the break times same as now. Not really much new to add, I guess I was just a bit shocked to find anonymous turning their anger so strong towards me for no apparent reason – yeah anonymous internet!
    Love you Mrs. Q 🙂

  33. Not realistic, but it would be great if families just had the option to pick a school with a schedule that matched their needs since there are arguments on both sides.

    But there was talk of going year-round way back when I was in middle school and the thought always made me nervous. With divorced parents who lived in different parts of the country, summers are when I got to see my mom. Flying cross-country for each mini-break would have been prohibitively expensive so cutting back summers would have just cut my time with my mom.

  34. Shorter breaks spread throughout the year seem to work very well here in the Netherlands. At any rate, the children here do far better on standardized tests that children in the US. Of course, it's a small country and multiple trips across it to visit a parent throughout the year is less of a hardship than in the US. But if I were in the situation of having to choose between my child getting a well-proven better education or getting more time with them in the summer, I'd probably put their education first. In fact, my divorced parents had a similar choice when I was teenager, and though I didn't see my mom at all for a few years, we still had and do have a great relationship.

  35. I understand the whole custody thing for divorced parents. However, if it is really a big concern that you don't get to spend time with your child other than in the summer, why not move closer to the child so you can see your child on a more regular schedule other than just summer? Your custody schedule could be worked out so that the parents split the breaks. It may be inconvenient if your spouse has moved away, but it was probably inconvenient for the child to have 2 parents split up and move away in the first place.

  36. I like the idea of having optional summer programs that can be free or cheap. The program my school district had a few years ago was free to low income and ELL students and was set up to provide them with a summer comparable to what their classmates of higher incomes did over the summer.

    We did academics, but we also did field trips. We went to the local aquarium and spent the week before and after reading about fish. Then we went to a baseball game and spent the time before and after reading stories about baseball. The same continued for a Children's museum, and the zoo.

    Luckily the district received a grant to pay for this pricey program. And we are in the Chicago suburbs so we have access to these things, and could even take public transportation to some of the events. (luckily We had lots of parent chaperones which gave us the chance to teach the parents how great these things can be.

    The only downside to the program (other than the obvious cost) was that by the end of the summer, some kids were only showing up for the field trips.

    I think that if a summer program was set days and times, and cheaper than daycare it would be a good option for many families. Then those that go on trips/camps/other programs can still do that if they wish.

  37. I'm with Rebecca. Plane tickets are NOT cheap so take away summer vacation and therefore one parent stops being able to see their child (possibly children) except for maybe a couple weeks a year. Not all parents can afford to move closer – obviously where they live is where their job is and the economy isn't so great that anyone can just quit and move whenever they feel like it.

    BTW my parents were not divorced. But I knew/know plenty of people who's parents are.

  38. I'm all for having a "year round school schedule". I'm a single parent, my daughter's father died when she was a baby. So I work full time and during the summer months still work!! Like most people actually do. That means My daughter going to a summer program that has field trips twice a week, but she gets very bord being there. We do all the summer fun things on the weekends. I work in the resturant industry which doesn't allow me to take vacations during the summer months, So having weeks off during a different time of year would be great. And most "wealthy" parents who live near us take vacations when they want and will take their kids out of school.
    Also, the USA doesn't have as many school days as other countries around the world. And some of the other countries children have higher IQ'S because they are so focus on education. While most parents (that I see) are more worried about their kids playing sports, dance, etc.Which is also great but for the most part won't get your kids a great paying job.(unless their really talanted)
    Will it have problems? Sure, just like the schdule does now. But with all the testing and teacher workshop days, how much are our kids learning, really?

  39. i am 16 years old and i agree with you mrs. Q. my mom is a dietitian and has me pack my lunch every day and i am so glad for it because the school lunches are disgusting and you can bounce a spoon off the "hamburger". my mom also banned video games from the house and we dont have tv. often times my friends will ask how i can manage without these things and i tell them truthfully that i love it and would not have it any other way. because of not having these distractions i spend my time doing things in the community and with my family so i feel closer to them than many of my friends do to theirs. i also spend most of my summer outdoors which i learned to love from my family as well. i am so glad for what she has done for me 🙂

    p.s. if this has been posted twice, im sorry my computer is giving me trouble

  40. I've only just found your blog today. I admire what you did. I ate lunch with my son a few times at his American elementary school in MD a few times, and I was always a bit taken aback (sometimes appalled – like when a lunchroom helper gave the kids KETCHUP to dip their PIZZA in! WHAT?!?!) by the lunches served. I also quickly realized there was a problem with time management – it took the kids longer to get through the line than they had to sit and eat. Nevermind, there was zero encouraging to eat what they were served. Can you blame them? I am sure you've heard this all before. 🙂

    On the subject of year-round school, though – we are military stationed in England right now, and at first I thought I would really enjoy the year round school. I do think I feel more tired this year than I did in our first 3 years in a traditional school year in the States. I like the "look and feel" of the school calendar – those long breaks and opportunities to travel and still having some leftover time at home between terms. I think it will take me the full 3 years to get used to this, at which time we'll be switching again. But overall, I think it would be a good switch for the States. I have been leaning toward homeschooling since I had baby #2 four years ago (and all the things I became educated on by just HAVING a kid), and I think when we move that's what we'll do. I just can't stomach the thought of more inferior schooling, let alone lunches (sorry for the pun).

    Again, what you did is so inspiring, so needed, so worthwhile, and thank you for being a teacher. I have been volunteering at my sons' school 4 days a week, and they would use me more if I would let them. I've always had immense respect for teachers, but now I have insane MAD respect for all of you.

    Thank you – for everything you're doing! Way to go!

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