Why summer vacation should be expelled
Beyond the billions spent on camps and activities, the ultimate cost may be how kids lose skills and learning.
The summer vacation is one of childhood's sacred cows, but it's increasingly coming at a high cost for families.
Americans will spend $55 billion this summer to enroll their kids in day and sleep-away camps and for other activities, such as sports teams, pool memberships and arts programs, according to an American Express (AXP) report.
That boils down to $856 per child, a 40% jump from 2012, the study found.
The summer vacation from school, which typically lasts from mid-June through late August, is often thought to be a relic of America's agrarian past, although one sociology professor argues that the belief is a misconception.
Instead, according to Bob Thaler, an assistant professor of sociology at Saginaw Valley State University, the summer break was created for urban families because cities were "hot, dusty, smelly, uncomfortable places to live in summer."
While many families would love to skip camp payments, they're increasingly necessary, given that about 71% of women with children now work.
Most American families view the summer break either with joy (from the kids' point of view) or with dread (many parents). But aside from the toll on Americans' pocketbooks, there's another cost to be paid.
Summer vacation disproportionately hurts low-income students, as Slate's Matthew Yglesias points out. [Slate is owned by Microsoft (MSFT), as is MSN moneyNOW.] The idle time during summer break results in the average student's shedding one month of learning, but low-income students lose even more ground, a 2011 Rand study found.
Adding to the problem is that each summer vacation magnifies the problem for low-income students because the learning loss is cumulative over time, the study found. That may play out in even more difficulties for low-income kids to get ahead or make it to college.
At a time when social mobility is hotly debated -- mounting evidence shows that it's not always easy for low-income kids to climb the income ladder -- here's one idea: abolish summer vacation.
Sure, it wouldn't be popular with kids and companies already hawking back-to-school gear, such as Wal-Mart (WMT) and Apple (AAPL). But given the hit not only to Americans' pocketbooks but to schoolkids' achievement levels, it's an idea worth considering.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
Aw. Let us set it up so no one can raise their own children, anymore. Make school fulltime and blame the teachers for all the ills of the culture that encourages absent parenting because the paid job is the only thing that gets any credit around here.
Oh the disdain I see in people's eyes when I tell them we chose to afford a Stay At Home Parent...LOL
More school does not correlate to better education.
This is an argument to keep children occupied so parents can work more.
Summer vacation is the last bastion where a family can be a family and the
government can stay the F*** out of our lives.
PS- The sociologist they quote was arrested for having child pornography. Proving the argument that too much schooling causes social dysfunction. Even considering a recommendation from such a sick individual should be criminal.
There is value to a break. I don't agree with the break being three months long though. It would be much better to have a month off and then to offer summer educational programs...full time summer programs with full hours like those that are offered during the school year. Normally an employed person works all year long. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect public school teachers to do the same. I have noticed my daughter's learning curve during the fall and completely agree that she should not be taking a full summer off. However, the only programs offered that will fill the gap are online. There are advantages to human interaction and I think we need more summer offerings for young children.
Kids have little to worry about. Too much money is being made by too many people from school summer vacation for it to be threatened with elimination.
Teacher pay isn't the issue. Teachers can choose a 9 or 12 month wage payment cycle; the teachers I know choose the 12 month cycle.
Generations of children have had a 9 month school year with a 3 month summer break. Why is it suddenly an issue that kids have retention issues? I recall the first month of the school year always being a review of the previous year.
My opinion, and it's just that, an opinion based on my experience and the experiences of my friends/family: Summer vacation is too expensive! Child care (if they are not old enough to stay home alone), summer/sports/art camps if child care is full; what to do with the kids for 3 months? They can't be left alone at home if they are not old enough. My siblings and I were left alone while mom and dad worked, older kids watched younger kids. Not fair, but it was necessary. No child care then.
High school kids would lose out on the opportunity for summer employment; community service, etc.
I really don't think that year round school is a good idea.
My guess this idea would make a big hit with the teacher's union for more pay to keep kids in school 12 months a year. What would the reason be? Would we advance kids faster by going all year long, say a grade every six months? Or is the idea to have kids sit there going over the same stuff for 12 months. The reason for the vacation is a VACATION, a break in learning. Families going on a trip, spending time together or a kid learning something new not related to school.
I have raised two kids and have seen the public schools at work, there is so much wasted time.
I took them out of public school and did home school. We got done is 3 hours what took over 6 hours at school. Wasted time should be the concern, not more time. After the 3 hours of school work we when on to tennis practice for tournaments, music, art and having fun. Best thing I ever did was getting them out of the public school system, Both are in college now, well adjusted humans.As for low income families, not all of them have 10 kids and leave them at home, some of the parents take the kids places, read with them and practice math. There is a lot to do that is free in this world that doesn't take money to make it happen. You don't have to visit Disney to have fun. The government (schools) are not needed in our lives every day of every month or every year.. Just because you are low income doesn't mean you are stupid, just poor. If being rich required being smart there would be few who were rich.
If you want to do something for kids then make sure they are getting a great education 9 months of the year, stop with the three weeks off at Christmas and 2 weeks off at Spring and all the teachers days (which we all know is a 1/2 day of work on a Friday for a meeting and then off for the weekend)
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