School holidays comprise a significant portion of any school year. Students attend an average of 180 school days per year. The rest of that time is spent on weekends, holidays and vacations. While students look forward to those holidays as a break from their regular studies, there is a growing fear that American students are falling behind because of the lack of actual classroom time.
One of the benefits of school holidays is the time that families can spend together. School work, especially in junior high and high school, becomes a child's job. Holidays give families an opportunity to spend time together and celebrate. The focus for students moves away from school and onto family and culture. Longer breaks such as the winter holidays allow families an opportunity to reconnect.
The Downside of Time Off
Just because kids have time off from school doesn't mean parents do. When elementary-age children have holidays and parents do not, parents can be left scrambling for day care options. Many parents do not have the same time off as their children, causing added expense with babysitting or daycare. Instead of being at school, students are merely shuffled to another home or institution.
By most accounts, the United States educational system has fallen behind that of other countries. Many in the education community believe that this is due to an outdated school schedule still based on a harvest schedule that gives students summers off and extensive holidays throughout the year. President Obama called for a longer school year to extend learning opportunities for K-12 students. More school time could increase student learning.
Students Need a Break, Too
While everyone wants American students to be competitive, students need a break from the classroom occasionally. Spending all day in a classroom actively learning is tiring, and there is a limited amount that students can learn. Taking days off here and there can provide students with the mental break they need to be engaged when they go back to school. While students may not need the amount of time off they currently receive, some breaks encourage rest and give students the boost they need to do their best when they are back in class.
Pamela Rivers is a writer and English teacher who has been writing for over 20 years. She has been published in "Teaching Today" and "Burnside Writer's Collective." She has a bachelor's degree from Ball State University and a master's degree from Pepperdine University.