Ah, summer holidays - long days of riding bikes, setting up lemonade stands and hanging out in tree forts. It's a lovely image, but not one that holds much truth these days.
Once upon a time, when a majority of Canadian families had one stay-athome parent (usually mom), the summer school holidays may have actually resembled that idyllic image.
And for even earlier generations, that long summer break was an absolute necessity - every hand was needed to help work the family farms during the busiest time of year.
But the world has changed. Kids don't need to help with the harvest. And most don't spend their summer days riding bikes around the neighbourhood. Two-parent families with one parent at home are in the small minority now. Many families are led by single parents. For these families, summertime just adds another level to the precarious juggling act of child care and work.
But convenience isn't a good enough reason to alter long-held school calendars, is it?
If not, improving student learning certainly would be. Research backs up what most teachers observe anecdotally every September: that over the summer, children's skills and learning can slide back, forcing time at the start of the year be focused on reacquiring knowledge before moving ahead again.
And, for children in vulnerable family situations or those who rely on food programs through schools, the summer break can be a hungry, isolating, and lonely time.
We have to set aside our sentimental attachment to the idea of that symbolic childhood summer and decide if going to a balanced year-round calendar - like Kanaka Creek Elementary in Maple Ridge - would be better for families, for society and, most importantly, for children.
We suspect it probably would be.
@ Copyright 2013