Passover Assignment for 9th Grade
As summer comes near, many children are really happy to forget about school for a few months. However, they might be taking that goal too seriously. Studies have found that children typically forget between one and three months’ worth of school learning during the summer months. Spelling and math abilities suﬀer the most, while reading is not really inﬂuenced by the time oﬀ. The most probable reason for this is that most children read at least occasionally outside of the classroom, whether newspapers, magazines, books, or video game guides. However, their math and spelling skills only get exercised in the school setting.
The original purpose of summer vacations was to let farm children have time oﬀ to help work in the ﬁelds in the high growing season, but this reason is no longer valid since fewer kids actually work on farms today. Some cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles, have moved to a year-round school calendar, which may help reduce the academic decline that occurs during the long summer vacation. Most cities maintain the normal nine and a half-month calendars. To improve skills and to maintain a good level of preparation, superintendents recommend trips to museums, summer camps, vacations with educational components, and visits to libraries to keep kids mentally alert and interested throughout the summer.
There are other educational systems that provide vacations while still keeping students’ skills sharp. For example, in Japan students attend class for seven weeks consecutively, followed by two weeks of vacation. This continues throughout the year. In Italy, students attend class six days per week, but ﬁnish at 1:30 PM each day, so that school does not domi- nate their life the way that it does in America, where students attend high school from
7:45 AM until 3:00 PM each week day. In areas where there are not enough classrooms—in Afghanistan or Somalia, for example—older students attend classes in the morning while the younger kids go to school in the afternoon.
School administrators and educational specialists fear that the three-month summer vacation halts the continuity of learning. Just as students become accustomed to new math equations or new concepts in reading, writing, or critical thinking skills, they “shut down” for an extended period. When they go back to school after the long summer vacation, they take up to two months to return to their previous level of proﬁciency. And so the debate con- tinues: whether to continue the status-quo in terms of vacations or to seek changes based on the Los Angeles or the Japanese models.