My daughter started kindergarten last week and we’re still getting settled into our new routine.

Before school started, everyone was out the door at 7:30 and I didn’t pick everyone up until 5:15.  Now Greg takes Vivian to daycare at around 7:30 and Lydia stays behind to catch the bus at 8:15.  And instead of me picking them both up at 5:00, Lydia gets home at 3:40 and Greg picks Vivian up on his way home.  It seemed strange at first, but we’re getting used to it.

With that being said, I’m pleased with how things are going so far.  The bus picks my oldest up and drops her off at the end of the driveway, and she appears to be learning all kinds of wonderful things at school.  She has made a few new friends too, which was quite a relief since my worst fear is her being sad and alone.  #MommyGuilt

A lot of people have asked why she started school so early since most kids don’t start until sometime next month.  The answer is simple- our school system runs on a modified version of year-round school and takes the following breaks:

  • 8 weeks off for summer (June, July)
  • 2 weeks off for fall break
  • 2 weeks off for Christmas
  • 2 weeks off for Spring break

Endless Summers in the 80’s

It seems that most schools in our area operate this way these days, but it certainly wasn’t always this way.  My entire school career was spent on a “normal” school schedule with three months off for summer and a week at Christmas and Spring break.  I still remember what school was like when I first started kindergarten in the mid-80’s.  The school year itself seemed to drag on forever, but so did the long, endless summers.

We spent them playing kickball in the streets, running through sprinklers, and catching fireflies in small mason jars.  I still remember the ice cream truck coming around the block with its corny, trance-inducing music, and the fogger.  Did you have a fogger in your neighborhood back in the 80’s?  In case you didn’t, it was a little truck that drove around spraying a “fog” that killed mosquitoes.

Nasty, probably cancer-causing stuff, but we didn’t know it at the time.  Oops. school

The Benefits of Year-Round School

I did enjoy those endless summers of the 80’s, but I’m actually pretty pumped that my kids will grow up knowing something entirely different than I did.  Here’s why:

  • Less time to forget what they’ve learned-  A growing body of research indicates that students forget a lot of what they learn during long summer breaks.  And apparently, this is particularly true of disadvantaged students and those who speak English as a second language.  If this is true, I don’t see why we wouldn’t stick to a year-round schedule.
  • Longer, more frequent breaks- As someone who loves to take frequent trips and vacations with and without the kids, I really like the idea of a two-week Fall break and Spring Break.  Those frequent breaks mean that we can go on trips more often and on dates that work around our own schedules (such as a Tuesday-Tuesday) instead of cramming our trip into a Winter break or one week of Spring break.
  • More opportunities to learn- Being on a modified year-round schedule doesn’t necessarily mean kids idle around doing nothing for extended periods of time.  In fact, kids in our school system can sign up for special learning opportunities during breaks if they desire to do so, which can include things like hands-on math, karate, and even swimming.  I like the idea of my kids taking frequent breaks to refocus and learn something new.

Will year-round school be perfect?  Probably not.  Still, I’m not as upset about it as some people I know seem to be.  To me, it seems like more of a trade-off than anything else.  After all, a shorter summer means a Fall break and a longer Spring Break.  And all those breaks, while possibly inconvenient, could lead to additional opportunities to learn once my kids grow up.

I guess I’m just willing to make the best of it too- we didn’t get a vote and the deal is settled now.  All we can do is prepare our children adequately, love them to pieces, and hope for the best.

Because Lord knows I’m not paying for private school.

Do you operate on a year-round or modified year-round school schedule?  If so, do you like it?  If not, do you think you would like it?