Year Round School: Beneficial Or Torture?

My eleven-year-old son attends a year-round school program that is half days in the summer time. Some people, when told this, look at me sideways as if I am depriving the child of a summer vacation. But what they don't know is that my son has learning disabilities and the year round school program is beneficial to his academic career.

When the report cards came out this past year, he was making C's in English and Math. This summer when I received his first report card, I got B's in English and Math. He also moved to a different room and instead of a female instructor, he now has a male instructor. Now that may not make a lot of difference, but I am seeing a 180-degree turn around in this child. He looks forward to going to school everyday now and he hates the days that they don't go to school.

Is this MY son?? He, who during school term, walks around the house like a zombie from " night of the living dead?" He, whom we have to threaten to pour ice water on his head just to get him up out of the bed in the mornings? He, whom we have to keep in a walking position or he will fall back asleep on the couch, the floor, or anywhere else in order to miss his bus to school during the regular term?

In our experience, Year-Round School has been VERY beneficial to our family. Our son is learning and continues to learn academically that which will benefit him in the future. I do not see any signs of torture in him for he is able to play with friends after school gets out at 12:30 p.m. Plus they have Friday through Sunday off, meaning that the year-round school program goes Monday through Thursday. In those four half days, I see him gaining as much education as he would receive in a regular school day. Plus they do not have to wear the regulated school uniform during the summer session. And to me, I think that has something to do with the academic progress of the children.

The Chicago Public Schools have a uniform code for elementary and jr. high students of dark blue pants and pure white shirts. But for the year-round program, they are able to wear what they want in the summer time. I whole-heartedly agree with this because a child that is comfortable will learn better in school, although I also understand Chicago Public School's stance on trying to eradicate gang colors and kids beating each other up for footwear and over the colors that they wear.

I remember when I was a kid; I would have told you that year-round school was a bad idea. But now that I am a mother I have a different approach to it. I do believe that those children that need the extra help benefit from the year-round school program. I believe that those children that do not attend year-round school programs that need the extra help have a harder time in the next academic year in keeping up with their peers. And the shame of it is that most of those children are labeled as "trouble makers", "lazy" or "not living up to their potential."

It is not fair to label children that need the extra help in school. Our classrooms are over crowded as it is, and many school districts do not have the budget to hire teacher's aides. Many of these special learning needs children fall through the cracks and that is when the parents and the child get frustrated with each other and with the school system.

Year-Round School may not be for everyone. But for those that need the extra help, it is a great way for them to get that help. And in this day of "political correctness" and "softer language" the whole connotation of a "year round program" sounds so much better than telling a child they did so poorly that they have to take... "Summer School"!

Published on July 20, 2006 in