Let’s make summer vacation more scarce
Last week, I made a pitch for year-round school to Michigan’s lieutenant governor and Michelle Fecteau of the Michigan State Board of Education when they visited Traverse City as part of a listening tour on special education. I got sympathetic nods. With a special education child himself, Lt. Gov. Calley said he knows how summer can turn into a
behavioral and academic tailspin.
My fourth-grade son is fortunate to receive Extended School Year (ESY) services over the summer. We learned the importance of this the hard way – when he spent all of second grade trying to recoup what he’d lost the summer in between first and second. That regression justified ESY in 2014, and we were relieved to get it again this summer. Still, his last session was Aug. 6, leaving us with a gaping, month-long void before school starts Sept. 8.
Summer slide isn’t an issue only for special ed students. I can see it in my typical, first-grade-bound daughter, too. Lately she’s more reluctant to read out loud to me. When writing, she balks at sounding out words, and entreaties me to spell them for her. She’s reverted to writing habits she had overcome, like writing some numbers and letters backwards.
I had suspected and fretted about long summers being counterproductive for kids for a while. My own experience last summer confirmed it. I am one of the few fortunate parents who manages to arrange a non-academic job (a part-time public relations gig) to fit an academic schedule. This and last summer, I’ve been off when my kids are off.
The first summer, 2013, however, my hiatus didn’t start until July 1, making my summer about eight weeks
long. It was perfect. I went back to work satiated with summer and refreshed. Last summer, after a full 12 weeks off, re-entry felt far more sluggish. Not only was it tougher to get back into the swing of to-dos, meetings and projects, it took me a while to recall what I was even doing there in the first place.
Back to school pictures started showing up in friends’ Facebook feeds a week ago. By next week they’ll be coming thick and fast. Just within my social media circles, I know of students in Georgia, Ohio, Indiana and Maryland who will all be back in class before August is out.
Alas, not only is year-round school not an option in my community, there’s a hypocritical, ill-conceived state law that prohibits pre-Labor Day starts. Since Labor Day falls as late as the calendar allows this year, we in Michigan face our latest-possible school start date: Sept. 8, a full twelve and a half weeks since school adjourned June 10.
Scarcity makes any resource more precious. Let’s make summer vacation a little more scarce.