My district officially closed for the week, giving all students a three-week holiday (two weeks for the winter holiday and another six days due to our ice storm). Depending upon what the state forgives of these "snow days" since we were under a state of emergency, school could be in session well into June (we were already scheduled to go until the 18th).
This did get me thinking, though: do multiple shorter breaks make more sense than one long break in the summer? Many schools have already moved to this model, but certainly here in the States, the majority still stick with a long summer vacation.
So often, though, this long break seems to hurt continuity of instruction. How long does it take to get kids back into school mode? How hard is it to keep them in school mode for those last two weeks before the summer? On the other hand, would a 3 week break every quarter (forgoing the Christmas, Winter, and Spring breaks that many schools still employ) help keep kids on track?
Maybe we would simply have more frequent struggles to keep kids on task before a break and get them back on track after a break, but I'm inclined to believe that 2-3 weeks is a nice time to recharge, but not long enough to affect retention. It also provides time for students to complete longer-term independent projects. The summer reading we often assign is all well and good, but I'm inclined to believe that assigning a relevant novel at every break, or a cross-curriculum research project to complete over the break would be much more meaningful.
Worried about standardized testing? No problem: hold study sessions over these breaks. SAT prep classes, intensive make-up classes (equivalent to summer school), and the like could all be administered in short bursts during the breaks and still give kids time to relax or vacation with families.
I don't want to burn kids out, but I can't help but think it might actually be easier to maintain motivation if the prospect of long stretches without a break or anticipation of a long summer vacation with the associated brain atrophy didn't loom in front of students and teachers.
Year-round school? Count me in!