The research is there to prove it — it’s been studied by Harris Cooper, Professor of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri,
summer loss in knowledge is approximately one month overall. So, taking three months off in the summer cuts the school year down to 8 months. In math, students lose 2.6 months.
But still … what about this study, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, that time spent playing outside, reduces and eliminates ADHD symptoms? And, what about the simple gift of giving kids the time and space to learn a new skill?
In the interest of “education” the summer vacation is shrinking. And, with today’s technological advances and instant access to information, parents are finding it difficult to take a simple week out of the office. The WSJ, August 15, 2007, Vacation Deflation: Breaks Get Shorter, cited Expedia.com’s annual Vacation Deprivation survey (not kidding — real name) that:
a full 35% of employed U.S. adults aren’t taking all the vacation days they get for the year, inching up from 33% last year. Only 14% plan to take off a full two-week vacation this year, down from 16% last year.
So if adults are finding it more difficult to get away from the office, what kind of model are we creating for our kids? And, what message do we send them to cut that vacation as short as it can be? How do families do it?
As if the school year has already impinged on our summer enough, they wanted us back last week, a full two weeks before school starts, just to pick up text books. (We figured, the books would still be there — and they were.) We passed on that one — but we did come back for middle school orientation — a full one week earlier than we need to be. And a little less than a week early, we will be in the elementary school turning in forms, buying school supplies and getting the class pictures taken.
When I talk to teachers about the shrinking summer break — their eyes beam — they are excited to get those minds back into the classrooms, catching those brain cells before they deteriorate. Which is good — I’m glad they’re concerned, and eager to help. But, unfortunately, it’s getting tougher for families who want to spend quality time together and just “unplug.” Of course, there is always that option of taking your kids with you on a business trip, but we all know where that leads ….
A rare picture — it may become extinct in a few years. Cousins, at the lake at exactly the same time — two families that made the schedule work out, so that the kids could play together:
For more, check out the article and discussion at Slate on the 3-month summer vacation topic.