It’s that time again… kids are coming off of summer break and going back to school in the US. In my previous life working on the CLEAN & CLEAR(R) Brand the back to school season was like my Superbowl, now it’s just the time of year I get to see endless pictures on Facebook of my friends posting pics of their kids on the first day. OK, so I posted a picture too.
What really struck me this year about the back to school season was the reality of just how many days that kids in the US get off each summer.
The average of the sources I researched said that the a child in the US attends 178 days of school per year. While that doesn’t necessarily mean anything on the surface when you compare it to the fact that the average child in Japan attends 243, Korea 220, Israel 216, Scotland 200, England 192 it gets scary – and the list of countries where children go to school longer than in the US keeps going.
Sure, I love summer breaks (even talked about it in one of my first posts), but with all of the commentary about how we need to fix our educational system and strengthen the future of America’s children vs the rest of the world – isn’t the number of days in school an easy place to start?
This is where the school budget comment pops up. I’ll leave that out of this for now.
I do think summer breaks can be advantageous to give kids even more creative freedom and learn something different than when in school. Different brain muscles are developing when kids spend all day doing typical summer activities. I also think supplementing the summer with summer assignments is great and hopefully we get schools to formally promote more online learning like Khan Academy.
In the meantime, how about we extend the school year for an extra 2 weeks?
There’s great data that even shows that within the US the rate of ‘fallback’ from the level of knowledge a student had when the school year ended vs. where s/he started the next year with varies greatly (from losing a lot of info. to actually increasing educational level) depending on economic class. Affluent kids get smarter during the summer and poorer kids lose capability. Seems like something we can help also combat by rearranging the school year and day to help even the playing field between the classes (or sending everyone to HCZ or KIPP)