We have the possibility of both options, traditional or a year round calendar, for DS when he starts kindergarten this year. I have my own ideas about what the pros & cons of each would be, but would love to hear other experiences. Tell me why you like one over the other, please!
Traditional vs. Year Round school calendar pros & cons?
It really depends on how wide spread year-round is in your area. In our county, the largest district (and it's one of the largest in the state) and a handful of smaller districts are traditional. My kids have always been on the traditional system. There was a push towards year-round about 15 years ago but only a handful of schools stuck with the true year-round model. The majority of families in those districts were unhappy and so most eventually moved back to traditional or to an adapted year-round where the summer is shortened from 11 weeks to 7 weeks and those weeks are made up with a 3 week break in Fall, 3 weeks at Winter and Spring breaks and additional days at Thanksgiving and such. The parents I know in the adapted year-round systems seem to really like it unlike those we know in true year-round.
Because most schools in our area are traditional, most of the activities work on this schedule. I know the true year-round kids get really screwed in activities when they are younger and out of jobs when they are older. A teen who only has 3 weeks off just can't compete with a kid who is going to be able to work full time for 13 weeks straight in the summer. Of course, you are talking of a little one and job isn't an issue yet lol. The major conflict for him will be activities. Many programs do try to accomodate but only at the beginning levels. Once your child is older and ready for advanced instruction, those camps are longer and not usually placed for the convience of year-rounders. Again, if year-round is the norm in your area, that could be different. This may not be a big deal to you or to him.
Personally, we love traditional. We love the big break to really unwind. My kids like to fully immerse themselves in loved activities and enjoy the ability to hyper-focus, to spend many hours a day for week on one pursuit, ect. Granted, since my kids started school, I've always either worked for the school district (and so have the same vacations) or been a SAHM. This certainly makes summers easier as child-care and transportation isn't an issue. My DH can also rarely do any extended travel outside of summer as summer is the only real slow period at his work. My kids have always been ahead in school so no real issues with them maintaining skills. We are an excellent fit for traditional so of course, it's our preference.
Around here with so many schooling options: public, private, charter; there are just too many school schedules too keep straight. We homeschool but I work for a school district, that districts schedule is different than where we live etc. Honestly it seems like kids are always in school here since they start in late July/early August and go to mid May for public school.
With year round schools the schedule can look like anything.
What I've heard from parents in this area is anything is fine. They dont mind either type of schedule. Daycares are able to accomodate odd schedules if needed. Summer camps tend to run in 1 week sign ups (so you pay by the week) and we have lots of activies in the month of December as well.
The only concern is when a child transfers from a year round schedule to a traditional schedule. Sometimes they feel like there is no summer break.
I think it would depend on the other things going on where you live -- zoo day camp,swimming pools being open, the option to spend a day at the water park.
Where we live, the norm is 8 weeks off in the summer, 3 weeks off as fall break, and about a week and a half in the spring. Our school has a longer summer break and no fall break, and I kinda hate it. Nothing happens for the last 4 weeks before my kids start school. No camps. The water park is closed during the week, etc. It is beyond dull. (we are planning a nice vacation during that time next summer)
Many parents who work have trouble with the 3 week break because they don't have child care. Many other parents love it because the weather is wonderful. (Summer here is brutal).
If your kids are going to school year round, they may have a hard time enjoying much of what your city offers. I also think that as kids get older, having a complete break from school and the Work aspect of it is helpful. Fall is a fresh start, even the social groups become more fluid over the summer. I like a summer break!
BUT, and this is a big but, if one school seems like a better fit for your child overall, I wouldn't make the scheduling thing weigh into your choice much. There are more important things to consider.
Y'all have given me some excellent things to think about. A lot of our "choice" is limited by the lottery factor for charter and magnet schools, but traditional vs. year round will be part of the decision on which of those schools we decide to try for. If we don't get into one of those then we have somewhat of a choice for general public school as well. Thanks for your thoughts!
I have three kids at an elementary school on our district's "alternate" calendar. The summer break is shortened to about 5 or 6 weeks, with the remaining time off scattered throughout the year. The kids love all the breaks throughout the year, and the summer vacation is short enough that they don't get bored. I think it really is a great schedule for the kids. However, it does present some day care problems. It's a challenge to figure out child care for that week off in October, that extended Thanksgiving break, that week in February, that second week of spring break in April, and every Friday in June.
Here the school system have 6 weeks summer, 1 week in fall, 1 week in spring, and 2-3 weeks over Christmas season. Because this is the norm for all schools, it is a non-issue. I was raised in the traditional 12 week summer vacation and nothing the rest of the year. IMO, these summers were too long. Most of this time was wasted. And the rest of the year was horribly long, with no breaks.
I love the spread-out system. 6 weeks is long enough in the summer to still do things - either local trip to the water park or long vacation halfway across the world. And the long break at Christmas and the two weeks in fall and spring also give the opportunity to really relax with family and unwind. Plus with 7-10 days, there is still time for a short trip (if we have the money for it!).
There are two districts in our city, and in my district there are three year-round schools. Their summer vacation is July 1-August 7, and they get a weeks vacation in October, and extra days for their Christmas and Spring vacation, and a few extra days throughout the year off as well. The traditional schedule doesn't have the October break, and the summer vacation is July 1-August 31. I would totally prefer Year-round but the school I love doesn't offer it :-(!
Personally I hate the idea of year round school and we HS and it's not offered in my area - but I have a friend in NC (Charlotte area) that has to use it so I know first hand about the negatives!
her child is special needs so it's good and bad===much better now that she isn't working with the on again off again breaks and the disruption that causes
one thing you might want to also think about is how your district does it (since all seem a bit different) I know one in NC that you can pick- so EX.- the BFF next door might do traditional and you do year round and the kids no longer are BFF's- not to mention how hard play dates become
my friend also had to deal with lots of off for bad weather school days and just this year the school finally built in "weather-days" make-up days, and this over laps now into family vacations so it can really mix things up
as others have said - the biggest draw back seems to be the time off and if you work full time that can be a nightmare for some to get care and also the breaks don't always work well for the child
also planning what the family does (vacations) can be a plus or a big negative when you want to take a long trip and the time doesn't work with school
seems to work best if you don't really work full time and can be flexible - so many just can't
there is a lot to think about- good luck
No way no how would I agree to a year-round model. I'd homeschool. We live in New England and the winters are loooooooong and the summers are glorious but short. No way in hell I'd give up a single day of it!
But other than personal preference, I see the year-round model as problematic especially in high school. How are kids supposed to work summer jobs when they don't have a traditional summer break? Myself, I was expected to have saved up my own money for college through working (I worked during the school year too, but obviously ramped up my hours over the summer). What would business is tourist areas, in particular, do when they are flooded with tourists from traditional-school areas when their own teenage summer workforce is in school? What about teachers who work summer jobs?
Also, my oldest daughter has anxiety problems and she has a hard time transitioning. End of the school year is hard for her, and the beginning is a little hard for her too. I couldn't imagine going through that more than once a year! She also takes herself very seriously and expects a lot of herself (all self-imposed, it's just her personality). She really needs the summer to decompress and unwind and really concentrate on studying what interests her and her alone.
well there's lots of baby-sitting job! certain areas do have large drop out rates for older students
centers that you can get into will charge $$ and the constant change is not good for some students
it can also be really hard when so much of the country doesn't do year-round and if you are an older student and want to take "summer" program (ex- out of state scout program, etc) and can't because you can't get enough time off