In order to help you reach your own conclusions regarding whether or not a long summer break is preferable, let’s take a look at the following pros and cons to that substantial break in the school year.
A long summer break lets everyone recharge.
Even for the most ambitious of students, teachers, and other staff members, the school year can undeniably take its toll. Students have to get up early and go to class every day, with many struggling to learn and keep pace with their peers--and that’s to say nothing of the projects and homework that must be done after school.
It takes an enormous amount of mental energy for faculty to manage and teach students during school hours, let alone grade the massive volumes of assignments and projects that are turned in. On top of that, events and parent-teacher meetings require attention and mental energy as well.
A lengthy summer break can provide a much-needed period of mental rest. No one has to worry about completing or grading assignments, and everyone can enjoy the time off to recharge.
Summer break lets everyone enjoy the warm weather.
In many parts of the country, severe winter weather can limit the potential for outdoor activities and prevent people from going out to enjoy the weather. Spending time outside is an important factor in stress reduction, so providing people with the opportunity to do so while the weather is at its best can better prepare them to put in the effort required of them by the rest of the school year.
Summertime is the best part of the year to get natural, crucial doses of vitamin D and avoid deficiencies that can lead to weaker immune systems and less-than-optimal function of the brain and nervous system. Summer is also the best time of year for water sports, and many families like to spend long weekends enjoying vacations at beaches, lakes, and waterparks.
A long break from school encourages quality family time.
Speaking of family vacations, one of the most important aspects of a long summer vacation is the quality time that families can spend together. The strenuous demands that the rest of the school year places upon everyone’s time and energy often leave little time for quality socialization amongst family members.
When families don’t get enough time to spend together, their closeness and ability to problem-solve when conflict arises may suffer. Many families also include relatives who live far enough away that they require a longer vacation in order to make the trip worth taking.
A long summer vacation period allows families to spend more time together in a recreational setting and enjoy a much more laid-back lifestyle in contrast to the often hectic school year. It also provides the perfect opportunity for longer visits or extended stays during which distant relatives can reconnect.
A long summer break allows teachers and older students to work and save money.
Alongside the mental break from teaching and grading, faculty and school staff members may choose to welcome a summertime opportunity to work a different full-time job and make some extra money. This can provide a much-needed diversion and an opportunity for personal development that may fall by the wayside during the school year.
Older students who are of legal working age might also be able to take on a part-time job over the summer. The opportunity to experience one of their first jobs can provide them with invaluable life lessons and a taste of the independence that they work towards every day during the school year.
Holding down a summer job can also enable students to learn about handling money responsibly as well, and also serve as a refreshing way to reinforce the principles of dedication and hard work that they learn all year long.
Summer breaks give the opportunity for a change of pace.
Changes in pace and perspective are important when it comes to avoiding burnout and keeping morale up throughout the year. Just as having a summer job can provide a new context for the much-needed life skills that are called upon throughout the school year, a break from academic studies gives students the mental space needed for personal development.
People need to get to know themselves in a variety of different settings, especially during the monumental periods of development that constitute childhood. If students aren’t given a change of pace in order to avoid burning out, many run the risk of “emotionally checking out,” and their learning and development can suffer as a result.
Longer breaks make it harder to return to a structured schedule.
Many people worry that a longer summer break affords students a little too much slack for too long of a time period. When students no longer have to get up early every day and maintain a structured schedule, they fall out of practice and often have significant difficulty re-acclimating once the school year resumes.
A long summer break can result in the notorious “summer slide” and loss of previously-learned academic material.
Summer learning loss is a very real thing, and can set academic progress back for even longer than the duration of the summer break itself. Many people argue that students’ grades and learning retention would fare better if summer breaks were shortened, since longer breaks allow greater opportunity for learning loss.
When students have nothing to remind them of what they learned the previous year and no motivation to refresh their memory with study sessions, they’re bound to forget some of what they previously learned. This can cause issues with maintaining grades and interfere with their ability to learn new material that builds upon what they studied before the break.
Extended periods of time together can result in increased conflict at home.
While all that quality family time during summer vacations and time off from school can be great at first, there’s definitely the possibility of “too much of a good thing.” When students spend the summer away from school, they have long periods of uninterrupted time to get on the nerves of their siblings, parents, and other family members.
Many families find that, by the time their yearly summer vacation is done and the novelty of the summer break has worn off, they still have several weeks’ worth of looking forward to students going back to school.
If you don’t work over summer break, you’ll have less spending money.
If faculty members and staff don’t elect to take a different job over the long summer break, then they’ll have significantly less spending money on hand. Unfortunately, while they might have plenty of time on their hands, the lack of income can tighten the budget and interfere with their ability to make the most of that time off. Without the money to have a good time, the summer off can ring rather hollow.
Having too much time on your hands can lead to boredom and stagnation.
Along with having less income, a lack of occupation during the summer months can lead to boredom as well. Students, especially, are prone to getting bored over the course of long summer breaks since children crave stimulation and excitement.
When left to their own devices, kids can quickly run out of ideas to keep themselves busy with, and can slip into doldrums that lead to mental stagnation. Just like summer learning loss and a lack of daily structure, this can make it extra difficult to get back into the swing of things when the school year resumes.
There are definitely multiple pros and cons when it comes to including long summer breaks in the academic year. If you’re having trouble deciding which side of the fence you’re on when it comes to the inclusion or duration of summer breaks, refer back to this list of pros and cons to help you decide where you stand.