Every year about this time the nagging feeling comes around that perhaps we should re-think traditional school calendars, or more specifically, the nine-month school year broken by a nearly three-month summer vacation.
The majority of industrialized countries don’t use it because that large gap between grade levels is believed to be too lengthy. It breaks the learning cycle and puts the burden on teachers to bring students “back to earth” on vital matters like concentration, recalling what they learned last year and delving into new material.
China, for instance, has a school year that runs from early September to mid-July — some six weeks longer than ours (school days run from 7:30 am-5 pm!).
Japan requires 240 days (vs. 180 here) and gives students three equal breaks from April when new levels begin through March.
In South Korea, the year is divided into two semesters — March to July and September to February — with intervening one-month breathers.