When one-room schoolhouses were still in existence and the society of North America was largely agricultural-based, it was imperative that education would halt during the summer months. Students needed time off to help their families grow and harvest crops; education just got in the way. But gradually society changed in North America. The majority of Canadians and Americans was no longer making an agrarian living, but a living required them to move to urban America. Since most students no longer live on a farm, it is no longer essential that they be given long intercessions in the summer between the school year.
Therefore a new system would seem appropriate. This new system is known as the balanced calendar. Rather than having a two-month long summer, as in the traditional calendar, the balanced calendar entails a summer shortened to one month and the winter and spring breaks lengthened to one month each. Students would be in school from September to November, January to March, and May to July, with all of December, April, and August off. Each system has an equivalent amount of time spent in school and out of school, but the balanced system has many more advantages.
The balanced calendar is more suitable for use in schools than the traditional calendar because it creates a more efficient use of vacation time, a more desirable school environment, and greater academic achievement. The use of the balanced calendar in schools results in a more effective use of the students’ and teachers’ vacation time. Instead of having erratic breaks throughout the year, the intercessions will be more frequent. Pupils and teachers will now be able to spend long breaks in different seasons rather than having most of the allotted time for days spent out of school lumped together in the summer.
This will provide families for more opportunity for family vacations. Before, the cost to take a holiday during the winter and spring breaks was quite expensive due to the law of supply and demand. However, this will no longer be a problem. Families on the balanced calendar system can take a vacation at the beginning of December or at any time during April at much less cost since most schools will not be out of school during these times and it will not be at peak seasons.
According to information retrieved from Expedia. a, an all-inclusive one-week vacation for a family of four to the Dreams Cancun Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico from December 5 to 12, would cost $4569, but that same vacation taken from December 26 to January 2 would cost more than double that amount at $9508. Taking advantage of these low prices would not be possible for families on the traditional system. In addition to having more opportunity for vacations in the winter and spring breaks, a shorter summer could also have its advantages.
Many students, especially younger ones who cannot be employed for a summer job, may become bored with a lengthy summer. A shortened summer would provide a better emotional atmosphere for the holidays. Parents will be greatly relieved for no longer having to hear their child say every ten minutes “I’m bored. ” The switch to a balanced calendar would ultimately result in a more efficient use of the time allotted for school breaks. Another effect of the balanced calendar system is that it results in a more pleasing school environment.
Students will not become as bored at school. With long periods of in-school days, students become very uninterested in school are itching for the holidays to begin. On the other hand, with frequent holidays, boredom will not be as much of a problem with students and the regular month-long periods will give them time to refresh themselves and take their mind of school. The use of the balanced calendar will also affect the students’ stress levels. In a traditional calendar, all learning is compacted together, requiring students to complete tasks in a shorter period of time.
This can cause great anxiety, strain, and stress. However, in the balanced calendar system, students will become less stressed and have more time for rest and relaxation during their extended winter and spring breaks. Students and teachers alike will also become more focused and not as burnt out at the end of the year due to a spread-out learning schedule. Many schools that have switched to the balanced calendar have reported that there has been improved attendance among both students and teachers.
In Alberta, the Calgary Board of Education reported that they saved $25,625 in substitute teachers’ fees from 1996 to 1998. Schools have also reported that, overall, the behaviour of the students has improved. Thanks to the balanced calendar that gives students less stress, boredom, and burnout, the deportment of the student body improves, and a more desirable school atmosphere is produced. The greatest advantage that the balanced calendar provides is that its implementation increases learning and academic achievement.
During the long two-month summer break of the traditional calendar, students often forget a fair bit of what they learned in the previous year. This requires teachers to spend time reviewing previously learned but forgotten material at the beginning of and throughout the year. With the shortened summer of the balanced calendar, students will retain more knowledge and, likewise, require less review. The extra time that results allows more time to spend on learning new material. The extended winter and spring breaks also allow for extra remedial courses.
Struggling students can take these courses during these intercessions and catch up by the time school resumes. Without this help, struggling students can get farther and farther behind and their grades will continue to get worse. Overall, the balanced calendar causes greater learning, and the results are beginning to show. In Ontario, a study was done on seven schools that had switched to the balanced calendar system by comparing their results of a reading and mathematics test taken in grade three with the results in other schools.
In reading, students in these seven schools scored, on average, significantly higher than students who attended schools with the traditional calendar did. In mathematics, third-graders on the balanced calendar system also scored, on average, considerably higher than other students did. In both cases, fewer students on the balanced calendar were not meeting expectations and many more were exceeding expectations. A balanced calendar simply results in greater academic achievement among students.
Overall, the balanced calendar system is much more practical for our society, creating vacation time that is spent more effectively, a school environment that is more desirable, and grades that are more satisfying. With all these advantages, why stick to the traditional calendar? Life in North America has changed. Our lifestyle is no longer based largely upon the industry of agriculture. Why does the school calendar have to remain adaptive to a long gone society? It is high time that the school system be made more effective at what it was implemented to do: educating the world’s youth.