As Summer Approaches, Students Share Opinions on Organization of Student Holidays

Every country, state, and district has special and unique ways in which they choose to disperse breaks away from school. The time in between such breaks can greatly affect one’s school experience, too much time and students feel there’s burnout, too little and students may forget what they’ve learned and even dread the sudden change in routine. It’s a very double-edged sword. 

Recently, an anonymous poll was sent out to inquire how Westwood students fell on this subject. A total of 390 students responded to a short series of six questions regarding the matter. While the vast majority of 72.3 percent said they were content with the current format of the breaks there was a varying number of students who chose possible alternatives to the way they are currently scheduled, saying that they felt some of the breaks were far too close together. Though most agreed that summer break is just right, a majority stated that they would in general prefer shorter but more frequent and spaced-out times off from school. 

Regarding this desired amendment, many had creative solutions to the free-response questions. One individual suggested that we could just have longer breaks, or more three/four day weekends, stating that, “it’s easier that way, and it’s more relaxing after several stressful weeks at school.” To add to that, several said that more three-day weekends/staff workdays, especially with teacher shortages, would benefit both teachers and students, who would get time to catch up on work. 

Another student from Northern Europe mentioned that Norwegian and Finnish school systems have a student holiday in fall, the middle of Christmas, in February, in April during Easter, and one in summer, with no Thanksgiving break.

It is important to add that since public school students have a federally mandated number of days required for school, any change in the length of one break will affect the length of another break. One commonly proposed solution is to make student holidays spaced out and instead go to school all year, but with fewer yet longer breaks. The summer break is excellent for students to get an opportunity to work full time, attend camps, relax, and take vacations with family. Moreover, for teachers, the summer break is a good opportunity for extra training, preparation, vacations with family, and getting caught up on tasks that couldn’t be done during the school year.

Ultimately the most brought up contention made was regarding the importance of mental health and a healthy work cycle balance. An overwhelming majority of the free-response answers were written declarations of fatigue, exhaustion, and being overworked. Many said that they felt burnt out due to the strange spread of breaks. Several felt that more evenly spaced breaks could help to alleviate those issues and promote better stability. Students are confused that they have jobs, sports, and personal struggles that make it hard to be constantly working with minimal time to decompress.  While no alterations to school calendars have been discussed so far perhaps these proposed changes could help to alleviate stress and create an environment where students feel they have options to lead a more productive and sustainable school year.