Kids are going to hate me for this.
Summer break is so very unproductive. I know that having 2-3 months off sounds and looks great to a kid, but really, it's like a 2-3 month drain on their brain. They go back to school having forgotten a lot of things, and, having gone to school through summer the past few years, I rather like having a summer schedule to keep me going through the year. Perhaps having a month or so off would do some good, but more than a month is not much good at all.
I know that children are really good at picking things up and learning things, especially when they're younger. The things they can learn are amazing! Once they get to middle or high school, they don't pick things up as quickly (although they still pick things up more quickly than an adult would). Nevertheless, all the kids (at least most of them in the United States) typically get a break from sometime in late May or early June until late August or early September.
During this time, unless they are on some type of honors track (or punished into taking summer school), they take a break and...do nothing. They go swimming, take vacations, sometimes they sit around and complain how bored they are (guilty). They go to camp, they hang out with friends, but do they use any of that stuff that they learnt during the school year? Not really. Then, when they go back to school, they have to ease their way back into things. They start out slow, especially the first week.
I remember the first time I had to do a summer reading assignment because I took Advanced Placement classes. I was so unhappy with it, and I put it off until the last minute, all the while complaining about how bored I was with summer vacation. I didn't do anything for math, science, or history. My second year of high school, I moved to a different district, so I didn't get the summer reading assignment, and I had to do it very quickly after school started, putting me at a disadvantage. My junior year of high school, I did go to band camp, pushing my summer reading assignment forward, and the same with senior year.
In college, the classes were more varied, but I usually worked during the summer. Up until 2009, I had a job during the summer, so I didn't have the same idle time during the summer that I had up until then. I think it was a change for the better, because summers were no longer slow and long (although I got a break that was quite a bit longer- early May to almost September).
Then, in 2010, I took summer classes. When I went back in the fall, I didn't have the lazy summer brain that I had experienced before. By lazy summer brain, I mean the "I'm still in summer mode, I want to go back to summer vacation so I can sleep all the time and not really do much of anything" mentality. It was refreshing. I jumped right into the coursework, and although I kind of wished for a break, I also was kind of happy that I didn't have to go through the change in mentality that comes from a long break. I haven't had a long break since, not longer than a month anyway, and it's great. I feel more prepared for my classes when I don't have that break.
I think that if these kids had short breaks more often, as college has, instead of having the long, long summer break, they might fare better in school. They'd also be able to take trips more often, and they could stagger so that way everyone wouldn't be taking trips at the same time. I know that year-round schooling isn't a new idea, that it's been introduced, and a lot of people aren't fans, but looking back, I kind of wish that I had it. Besides, in Texas, it would have given refuge on those 110 degree days that we tend to experience quite often, in a nice air conditioned building.
Coming from a person who has experienced the long summer breaks vs. short semester breaks, I, by far, prefer the short semester breaks. Of course, kids might protest that, but they probably don't realize that they'd get the same amount of time on break, just spread out more over the year. It would also make it easier for kids to advance at their own place, and enter/exit schools as necessary. To me, it seems like there would be a lot of advantages, but hey, I could be wrong. I don't know everything, but I do know that from what I have seen, it might just be a better thing.