Different Types of Schools

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For many years, there was only one way to attend public school. Students attended school for a few months, usually 9, had a couple of long breaks during that time, and then they were out of school for what sometimes seemed an eternity, during the summer.

When school calendars were first developed, they revolved around the harvesting and planting of crops, so children could be home to help during summer months. However, after farming declined, schools stuck to the schedule, partly because it was too hot to hold classes in the summer, without air conditioning.

In the early 1900s, schools started experimenting with year-round school calendars. But the idea didn’t become popular until the 1980s, when studies began to show that American students weren’t scoring well on national and international tests. And, in 1999, there were more than 2 million students enrolled in approximately 2900 year-round schools in America.

The term year-round school can be a bit misleading. It implies that students go to school, most weekdays, for the entire year, when in actuality they attend school for the same number of days that students attend traditional calendar schools. Year-round schools just have breaks that are divided throughout the school year, and the summer break is only for about a month, instead of three.

There’s still much debate about which is better. Some questions that are being studied include:

  • Whether students, attending year-round schools, score better on tests.

  • What parents do with their children when school is out.

  • How do you plan for summer vacations?

  • Do students really lose a lot of knowledge during the three month break?

There are school districts in California that have been using a year-round calendar for thirty years, and there are others, such as in Texas, that tried it and abandoned the idea after a few years. School districts that offer both school calendars seem to fair better with parents. However, it’s hard to know what the long term benefits may be.

The number of year-round schools in the United States has increased significantly in the past decade. If you’re considering a year-round school schedule vs. a traditional one, you should visit both types of schools, ask many questions and then decide which works better for you and your family.

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