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Want to Prevent Summer Learning Loss? Cut Vacation!

By Madeline Holler |

Another summer break, another round of summer learning loss prevention tips.

First Lady Michelle Obama added Let’s Read! to her Let’s Move campaign. School districts all over the country are sending low-income kids home on the last day with free books to prevent the summer slide. The Washington Post‘s Answer Sheet writes about parents and community organizations coming together to figure out what to do to help kids retain what they learned during the school year.

I have a better idea, and one that’s so easy:

Send the kids to school. Not summer school, but real school. Let’s lengthen America’s ridiculously short school year and shorten its ridiculously long summer break. Eight, nine, ten weeks for a break? That’s far too long.

I know, I know. What about vacation plans? What about the kids’ sport? Adjust! Just adjust.

A longer school year with more actual class days — and I’m not talking about year-round schools with a month off in October, etc. — would kill a lot of birds with one stone. It would raise the salaries of teachers, who would get paid for the additional work. It would solve childcare problems for families (I’m not calling schools daycare, just accepting the reality of school hours and work hours). It would save municipalities money; they’re often left with having to organize and fund summer programs that basically ARE daycare for kids with working parents. It would lessen the intensity with which the standards are being taught — all that cramming into a single year. Schools would be able to do more than just the basics. And, of course, it would solve the summer slide.

It might also cut down the intensity with which we celebrate the end of the school year.

The downside? One less perennial topic for magazines, newspapers, and websites to cover. Oh, sigh.

A four-week break in the middle of summer seems perfect to me. Why is the American summer break so sacred?

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Photo: via Times

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About Madeline Holler


Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Want to Prevent Summer Learning Loss? Cut Vacation!

  1. carfree childhood says:

    while I agree with your proposal, I don’t think it would save municipalities money. Far more kids go to public school than to city-run summer camps. Also, if it is such a good idea, why don’t private schools do it? Is is because private school parents can afford enriching summer activities?

  2. Lisa says:

    Typically, year long school doesn’t increase the number of days in attendance, it spreads out the break so students are never out of the classroom more than three weeks. While this does clearly have a positive impact on low income students who typically see a summer dip, parents hate it. It is very difficult to find care for three weeks at a time especially since not all schools in the district are on the same schedule. Also, children from the upper middle class tend to actually see an improvement in skills over the summer due to enrichment activities they are typically enrolled in.

  3. JZ says:

    I, personally, would hate all year school. I enjoy summers off with my kids. (It would be different if I worked.) My older son does tuttoring once a week and reads everyday to help him keep on top of things.

  4. mightydoll says:

    People don’t “lose learning” they lose facts, trivia. You know it’s learning when the brain develops and maps and kids get MORE learning opportunities from playing outside, going camping, and even just farting around with a stick than they do from number drills. That’s not learning, that’s memorization.

    If it wasn’t for summer vacation, I’d have pulled my kids out of institutional school long ago.

  5. Maureen says:

    Part of me thinks more time in school would be a good thing, but another part remembers the awesomeness of summer vacation. Four weeks just doesn’t seem long enough… you are just getting your summer groove by about week three. It is hard to schedule the kids for camps and such because we both work, but we juggle and find a nice balance. The kids do worksheets almost every day and we do the summer reading program at the library. We try to make outings educational and I’m hoping there isn’t too much summer slide as long as we make an effort to minimize it.

  6. LindaLou says:

    Oh, hell no. I think the 9 measly weeks my kids have off id too little, not too much! I’v never bought that kids *lose* any thig over summer break.

  7. anon says:

    agreed, mightydoll!

  8. Manjari says:

    I agree with mighty doll. Many kids probably learn more from living “real life” than from being in public school.

  9. Lauren says:

    It might have taught this blog’s writers the difference between “its” and “it’s.”

  10. Annelise says:

    My local public school system just had to cut over $19 million dollars. They’re talking about eliminating PE! How in the world could they pay for a longer school year?

  11. Alexis Avila says:

    How about taking kids outside of the house during the summer, and bringing them on educational excursions to museums.
    Here is my take:

    Alexis Avila
    Prepped & Polished
    Tutoring, College Counseling, Test Prep

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