For most parents, figuring out what to do with the kids during summer break is a stressful and expensive experience. Day camps, daycare, swimming lessons, and soccer practice are costly, but the risk of being judged for not enrolling in the perfect program is high. What will the neighbours think if kids just play outside all summer? What if you don’t have a family vacation planned? What if you have no plans at all?
It doesn’t have to be this way.
According to new research from the University of Northern Nova Scotia, elementary and high school summer break may soon be a memory. The School All Year (SAY) study followed a group of Maritime students from Kindergarten to Grade 12, investigating the effects of year-round schooling and the elimination of all breaks. The results were very encouraging.
Not only did students complete high school a full two years before their summer-loving peers, but they also received early acceptance to specialized schooling following a fast-tracked undergraduate degree. They were simply better.
However, study participants reported that year-round school had its downfalls. Weekends, for example, were restricted from in-class instruction, despite parents’ best efforts to overturn this technicality. In its place, private tutors and study groups were organized so students didn’t fall behind.
A researcher from the SAY study explains the rationale behind the year-round school model:
“The idea for this approach came from all those kids that specialize early in sports and music. Since the great majority of these early specializers are making it big and earning a lot of money, we figured the same could be done with intellectually inclined children. Some children show exceptional cognitive ability before formal schooling even begins. We provided the opportunity for these children to specialize their unique skills.”
As the inaugural cohort of students graduate to higher learning, SAY labs are expanding throughout the country and hoping to influence traditional education. Ministry supporters and parent advocates have been essential to the success of SAY so far, though some children claim that losing summer break would be unfortunate.
Other “nay-SAYers” believe in a more holistic approach including physical, emotional and social development. Some even suggest learning through play.
Regardless, SAY is committed to affording brilliant kids the opportunity to get ahead, while relieving parents from the stress of summer break. Plus, the neighbours will be happy too.