In the U.S., I spent my summer vacations being pretty lazy; I spent June through August going to the pool, catching up with friends, sleeping late, or traveling with my family. For some reason, I imagined children and adolescents all over the world spending these months the exact same way, but I’ve now realized two things: not all countries have the same months for summer vacation and other kids out of school attended summer camp (6 million kids in America each year), try to make extra cash at a summer jobs or study at summer school (yikes).
While in the U.S., most schools allow a summer vacation of about three months, the summer holidays in England usually begin near the end of July and last until the first week of September for approximately 6 weeks of unadulterated bliss.
As for New Zealand and Australia, their summer holidays are from December through February and overlap with Christmas and New Year’s Day — in the Southern hemisphere, summer is during the Northern hemisphere’s winter months. It’s true – while kids in Beijing enjoy sunny lazy days, Aussie and Kiwi kids are currently at school. However, in the Philippines, summer holidays for primary and secondary school students begin in the middle of March and end the first week of June, during the country’s tropical summer months. While some people falsely believe that children once "brought in the harvest" on the family farm all summer in the rural past, leading to the creation of summer break, the actual history of summer vacation still remains somewhat of a mystery.
Summer vacation doesn’t come without its critics; some people disapprove of the long break between school terms, citing a regression of skills learned during the year in the long absence between terms. Teachers tend to spend the first months of fall terms reteaching students who might have forgotten a few things during their holiday. This begs the question, do we even need summer vacation? What are your thoughts on this? Do students and teachers need this break or are consecutive months without school too lavish a respite? This summer vacation poll reveals that 6% of people think that summer vacation should be shortened to 8 weeks at most because too many skills are lost in a 12-week break.
Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D. cites several facts pertaining to students during summer vacation:
–All students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.
-On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.
-Studies show that out-of-school time is a dangerous time for unsupervised children and youth
Peters goes on to explain that parents can combat the ‘dangerous’ effects of summer vacation, particularly through visiting libraries, signing kids up for summer writing camps, and checking out educational websites that provide intellectually stimulating ideas for kids.
I remember frantically cramming in summer reading before the beginning of each fall semester, and experts agree that reading does avert some symptoms of learning regression. Parents are also encouraged to have children watch educational television about science and nature, visit libraries and museums, and discuss current events.
Another way to combat the laziness of summer is summer school. The benefits of summer school include raising a student’s GPA, allowing a student to focus more carefully on a particular subject and learning in a more relaxed environment. Adolescents can also consider the benefits of a summer job—it’s a great way to build your resume, gain responsibility and, of course, score some extra cash.
Whether your kids hit the library, head for summer camp, get a job, or lounge around all summer, also be sure to use these months to still have some fun!