# What is the purpose of summer vacations from public school?

1. Nov 17, 2015

### bluemoonKY

I know that at the inception of universal public schooling in America in the 19th century, the public schools were closed during the summer so that the students could help their parents harvest crops. I don't think that it was foolish for the schools to be closed during the summers for this purpose in the 19th century. However, I don't understand while American schools are still keeping this tradition of being closed during the summers in the 21st century. How many students in public schools nowadays need to be out of school during the summer to help their families harvest crops? I think that the answer is well under one percent. It seems to me that there is not much purpose in keeping this tradition. Studies have shown that children being educated more does raise IQ slightly. Furthermore, more education also improves academic achievement.

Shouldn't we abandon the tradition of public schools being closed during the summertime?

2. Nov 17, 2015

### axmls

There's no point, really. My own experiences back in high school were that the first 2-3 months were just spent covering things students had forgotten over the summer break. Shorter, frequent breaks would be better, in my opinion, as it gives everyone a chance to relax, but not so long as to forget everything they've learned.

Of course, there are disadvantages, I think, to ending summer break. For instance, it would no longer be possible to do "summer internships" or to get a "summer job," both of which can have huge benefits.

3. Nov 17, 2015

### Greg Bernhardt

Summer break was intended for students to go back and help on the farm. Today I consider it a major hurdle. I know as a student I would lose lots of skills during summer break and always struggle at the beginning of the school year. I am a huge fan of year round school with various shorter breaks along the way.

4. Nov 17, 2015

### brainpushups

As @axmls points out there really aren't good reasons (from an student learning standpoint) to have a summer break that is as long as it is. Some states (or perhaps only districts) have adopted year-round school calendars, but none that I know of where I live. From an educators point of view that time is invaluable for developing and improving curriculum, but the same ends might be accomplished with a year-round (or 'balanced') calendar.

There is much to be desired for changing how most schools days and years operate. The start time is another big issue. Researchers agree that school starts too early for adolescents. The school I work in has the latest start time that I'm aware of in our area (8:15), but we've talked about making it even later. I believe many European high schools start around 9:00.

5. Nov 18, 2015

### Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Well, there is summer school in the primary grades in students can obtain remedial help is they did not do well during the school year.

During the summers following 4th and 6th grade, I did summer programs for advanced students. We studied math and science at a higher level, and in one case, I did a theater program. It was during a summer program, probably after 6th grade, where I learned basic programming.

During junior and senior high school, I did a 6 week program at a local university. We had choices of math, science (physics and/or chemistry), computer science, humanities (literature, writing, history, religious studies, . . . .), various foreign languages, and health/physical education. During the summer between 11th and 12th grade, I did an NSF-sponsored 8-week program in electrical and nuclear engineering at Colorado School of Mines. The university summer programs helped me retain my academic skills and usually prepared me for the following years. In 10th grade, I tutored a neighborhood kid (high school senior) in chemistry, which I had learned the previous summer.

My family usually scheduled a 10-14 day vacation during August, in which we would drive cross country and visit various historical sites and national parks. I also, worked full time during the summers (I didn't work while I was in Colorado or on vacation) and after school in my junior and senior years to save money for college. So my summers were quite busy.

6. Dec 1, 2015

### jack476

These days, it's mostly for administrative reasons.

Since the expectation is that schools will be closed for the Summer months, schools plan to use that time to do things like run training programs for teachers and construction projects.

7. Dec 1, 2015

### mathwonk

since public pre college school in US is often such a joke for good students, summer break gives them a chance to do some reading or attend a camp (like Duke TIP or epsilon or mathpath or PROMYS) for smart motivated students and actually learn something. also as a college profesor it gave me a chance to get some work done. virtually all my papers were written during vacations. so if regular school were year round, all real learning would grind to a halt.

Last edited: Dec 2, 2015
8. Dec 1, 2015

### symbolipoint

Summer time-break was at times an opportunity to learn things I tried to learn during spring or previous fall semester but could not at the time. For students who try to think ahead, summer break can be an opportunity to pre-study a course before doing it in the fall term.

9. Dec 2, 2015

### Andy Resnick

All work and no play makes bluemoonKY a dull boy.

10. Dec 2, 2015

### Staff: Mentor

Well out here in Australia our summer break is over Christmas and lasts about 6 weeks and there are other breaks during the year to give a total of about 12 weeks. It works well here - it could work well in the US - except for one thing.

I at one time frequented the college section of Yahoo Answers and the number one thing many students wanted to do was goof off - not all - but many did. Any suggestion of changing their cherished 3 month break was greeted with definite disapproval.

Its just human nature - once you get a 'perk' you do everything you can to keep it.

And I don't see anything on the horizon to make things better either. The following is sobering reading:

Students increasingly don't view college as a place to learn, but rather as a place to have that wonderful college social experience. And 3 month vacations are a big part of that.

Thanks
Bill

11. Dec 30, 2015

### momof4

No. There is already a shortage of quality teachers. Teaching is more difficult than many think and teachers need that break to recoup. In additional to teaching, we are handling classroom management and trying to inspire students who do not want to be there. I love teaching but there is no way I would stay without a summer break. As it is, I hope to start a PhD program soon. In addition, many teachers use that time for professional development. I personally take classes during my breaks. No one wants to pay for teacher to work the entire year. I make $43,000 with a master's degree. If I worked all year, I would expect to be making over$60,000. I love teaching but it isn't my calling and I expect to be compensated fairly.

12. Dec 31, 2015

### vela

Staff Emeritus
With a year-round schedule, you'd still have a similar amount of time off. It's just divided up during the year instead of mostly being in the summer.

13. Dec 31, 2015

### Staff: Mentor

Exactly. Here in Australia its like that and the sky hasn't fallen in for teachers.

Thanks
Bill

14. Dec 31, 2015

### momof4

Breaks that amount to the same time off would be okay for some teachers. However, many teachers use the summer break to take classes to increase their knowledge of a subject or pedagogy. It is the only time we have to devote to studies. Lesson plans and grading take time after school. Many of us also coach a school sports team during the year, leaving little time to take classes during the school year. In addition to coaching baseball, I also teach a creative writing class before school, as I'm certified to teach science and language arts. My students love it. If I were to work year round with breaks, something would have to give. Honestly having two months off in the summer is a huge appeal to prospective teachers and a reason those who stay in the field continue. I'm sure many teachers would stay. I wouldn't be one of them.

15. Jan 2, 2016

### Choppy

Ultimately, I suspect the "we've always done it that way" factor is a much bigger hurdle than most people would think.

16. Jan 24, 2016

### Dr. Courtney

Most states in the US have schools in session 180 days per year. Raising that would be proportionately more expensive. Spreading the same number of school days over a longer span would also cost more.

My wife and I are home schoolers, and our teenage children prefer to get the required 180 days completed as quickly as possible once the year starts. I think the only vacation days this school year have been Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day (three days total). Needless to say, our home school year wraps up much sooner than the public schools.

Even if our children were in the public schools, I think I'd prefer the longer break. Travel, summer jobs, and lots of recreational activities just work better in the summer than with oddly scheduled intermittent breaks.

17. Jan 25, 2016

### gjonesy

I think its more of a tradition then anything else, in my area there are year round school districts....but oddly the year round schools constantly have lower test scores than the traditional schools. So I'm not sure if there is much benefit to year round schools. Give them something to look forward to. As an Adult I always look forward to my vacation time from work..lol just saying

18. Jan 25, 2016

I love that.