Some educators are questioning whether it is time to consider a shorter summer vacation in order to keep kids from losing valuable lessons and skills over the 8 to 10 week break.
Summer break is an idea time for kids from middle and upper income homes to attend camps, go on vacation with their families, and regularly visit the public library. These are all activities that reinforce lessons already learned during the school year.
For low income students, summer break means a disruption in learning, meaning there is a “summer slump”.
Ahwatukee Foothills student Leah Norton, who will start ninth grade at Desert Vista High School in August, said she thinks a traditional break “is perfect.” She is spending the summer swimming, socializing with friends and reviewing her eighth-grade pre-algebra with a mobile-phone app.
“I think summer break is too long,” said Luisa Cruz, whose son will attend second grade at Garcia Elementary School in southwest Phoenix in August. Finding affordable child care is a problem, she said, and her son’s grades and test scores were too high to qualify for free summer school. “I think this is something our state needs to work on.”
At least one national research team found that Black and Hispanic students lose about a month’s worth of math and reading knowledge during a typical summer break.
Many school districts offer summer programs to help struggling students. Others overcome the slump with shortened summer breaks.
But messing with the school calendar can cause push-back from parents. Mesa recently opted to keep its traditional calendar intact after a majority of surveyed parents said they preferred the 10-week vacation.
“It comes down to what the community wants,” Mesa Associate Superintendent Bruce Cox said.
However, some experts say parents often do not realize how much their children can forget during summer break.