When I first saw this title in my RSS feed list, I had mixed feelings. As a homeschooler, I agree with a year around learning model. I applaud other countries that have moved to the year around model. We adopted it ourselves this past year and it has proved to be a great decision. Children should be learning all the time, why should it stop just because the summer months have rolled around?
As homeschoolers, we believe all that we do is towards learning. When the children play a board game, they are learning to follow rules, make decisions, handle money, etc. When they are reading, no matter what they are reading, they are learning how to form sentences, new words, spelling, new ideas and more. When they are cooking in the kitchen, they are learning math, reading, and chemistry. Life in general is about learning and I would like to see schools in America follow the example of countries, like Australia that follow the year around model. After all, we originally had summers off because we were an agricultural society, we are not an agricultural society anymore, so let’s update the system to reflect that. For our family, going to year around also gives us added flexibility for when we want to take time off…a week in May for our beach vacation, time around Christmas for making gifts and spending time with family, etc. So on one hand, I agree with this change that is beginning to occur.
On the other hand, when I read that schools were going to go to a longer day, I was horrified. Children already spend several hours in a classroom, then come home only to have more school work to do. When do they get to spend time being children? We wonder why so many adults have ‘crisis’ where they start acting out like children. I think it is often because they didn’t have the opportunity to be children. Children need time for play, to relax, to stare at the clouds. They don’t need every moment of every day filled up for them, or else they have no opportunity to dream and come up with new ideas.
Fortunately, as I read through the article, it appears that the extra school time is being devoted more to enrichment electives: forensics, cooking, art, etc. I think that is great! The kids seem to be enjoying the new experiences and when we allow children an opportunity to follow their interests alongside of learning the basics, everyone wins. It will be interesting to see how these projects pan out.