As the last bits of summer die out, it is a time to reflect on how awesome our tans were, how wonderful the BBQs were, and how much we'll miss the beach. It is also that time of year where students head back into the classroom and attempt to retrain their brains after relaxing for months.
Summer vacations are some of the most memorable times of any young person's life. For three sweet and brief months, children get to frolic in pools, play tag while fireflies and streetlamps buzz above them. It is during this time that children find themselves, discover their awakening adulthood and reflect on how temporary life is. Just kidding, most of the time children love to spend the summers sleeping in and eating copious amounts of ice cream.
With all this free time, we're left to wonder how much of it is bettering our children. Do they need this time to expand their horizons or are we allowing all the knowledge they soaked up during the year to trickle away like ocean water in cupped hands?
summer forever ? giphy.com
From an educational standpoint it is clear that children are away from instruction for far too long during summer vacations. Children, especially low-income children, who go two to three months without mentally stimulating teaching, are at a disadvantage when they return to the classroom. Considering that the way the United States Educational system is set up, depending on standardized tests to blanket evaluate the youth of America, they're missing out on the educational reinforcement which would allow students to pass these tests.
Sociologists Karl Alexander and Doris Entwisle came up with the faucet theory as a way to explain why extended summer vacations are detrimental to students. When the faucet is "on" and children are in school, the socio-economic gaps in learning are significantly less noticeable, but during summer when the faucet is off, low-income children suffer the most.
When we are able to take a step back from the faucet theory, we see that this is a huge problem in keeping people who come from low-income families and those with less educational opportunities stuck in their current situations. Children can't be held accountable for their own education outside the classroom and as much as we would like them to be, the reality is there are very few children who can maintain their learning long after school lets out.
On the other side of the coin, summer vacation has cultural connotations for Americans. It is a time where children get to spend long stretches of time with distant family and their parents. It is a time where children are also exposed to another side of life outside of their primary education with activities such as summer vacation. The socialization value of summer is undeniably important in any child's life; being able to run around with our peers and get into harmless trouble adds value and complexity to their developing personalities. Some of my fondest memories come from hitting the beach with my friends instead of working hard on math homework. It is important to note that although it isn't beneficial to a child's education to take a summer vacation, it is crucial to their socialization.
There has been solutions posed by educators and parents alike, to shorten summer vacation to three weeks and keep the students in school year-round. The pluses of this is that the faucet will always be on, and children will get longer breaks for Christmas and other breaks throughout the year. As nostalgic as we will be for summer, it is time we put an end to extended summer vacations in order to make sure children are getting an enriching education all year long.
By switching to year-round schooling, test scores will improve and students will constantly be pushed to achieve their academic goals. It is easy to forget about school for three months, but in order to secure the education needed to survive in our growing world, we need to constantly be pushing young minds to stretch and expand.