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What Is the Purpose of Summer School?

Summer school can help students catch up or provide new learning opportunities.  

According to an article in Mental Floss, summer vacation started around the 1900s. Cities in the U.S. became such sweltering heat-boxes during the summer that families fled for the countryside, leaving schools half-empty. City schools soon started closing during the summer and rural schools adopted the same schedule to keep the city kids from falling behind. This is how the summer vacation was born. 

Summer school refers to programs or lessons sponsored by a school during the summer months. The purpose of summer school varies based on the school and the student. 

Why do children go to summer school? 

While there is a common misconception that summer school is strictly for students who failed a class during the regular school year, or low achievers at risk of falling behind, that is not true. 

Some schools do require students to take makeup classes during the summer, but many schools also offer summer programs or learning opportunities meant to help students jump ahead in their academic studies.  

Some of these courses include foreign languages or performing arts that can’t be provided to students during the regular school year. Thousands of students choose to go to school during the summer simply because they enjoy it. 

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The case for summer school 

Some studies say year-round schooling is better for students than taking an extended summer break. According to The Brookings Institute, summer learning loss (also known as the “summer slide”) can result in students’ achievement scores declining by one month’s worth of school-year learning. 

Considerable effort is being made to help both parents and students understand that summer school isn’t a punishment, but an essential component to long-term academic success. A very small percentage of schools have already moved to a year-round or balanced school calendar. 

A group called the National Association for Year-Round Education (NAYRE) says that students using the traditional summer break calendar might be up to a year and a half behind students on a balanced school calendar as they enter high school. 

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Should your child participate in summer school? 

If summer school is an option for your child, it’s important to discuss the matter with your co-parent. Putting your child in summer school could affect your custody schedule and/or other activities that you or your co-parent may have planned. For information on how to navigate back to school with your co-parent, click here.  

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