By Lisa Reichelt, Parent Coach
I live in Minnesota, so Spring Break can come when the weather doesn’t look exactly springlike. Still most of us are tired of the long winter and think a break is just what we need to rejuvenate and get through until the real signs of spring refresh our lives. Therefore, a question that comes to mind is this- “Is Spring Break really necessary for our students? Or is it just a way of copying the schedule of colleges and universities?” Is Spring Break a time of rest and refreshment or is it a burden on already stressed families?
Spring Break Pros and Cons
Let’s look at the pros and cons to Spring Break for elementary and middle school aged students. Is it beneficial for young students to be away from school for a week or more? Break usually occurs about 10-12 weeks after New Year’s. Students have been in school regularly and have been making good progress in their studies. They are engaged in their learning and teachers are seeing academic gains. Then the break occurs! Many students fall behind in reading and math in the 8-10 days they are away from school. Besides loss of learning, another disadvantage to Spring Break is the burden it places on families to find childcare for their school aged children. Often parents can’t take time off work and must pay someone to watch their children. Other times children are left home alone or in the care of an older sibling. These are less than ideal arrangements and disrupt the family schedule. Another con is that Spring Break may become an event that separates the “haves” from the “have nots” and our children are most impacted. Some families book expensive vacations and others can barely afford to see a movie.
Now for the Pros
So what are the pros to Spring Break? Research shows that children (and adults) benefit from taking a break from their routines in order to let their brain and their body rejuvenate. Therefore, Spring Break allows that to happen. By setting aside the rigors of schoolwork and peer interaction, students can relax and regroup. They come back to school refreshed. Another advantage is that the school staff is also given an opportunity to relax and refresh. Education is a demanding profession. Getting a time of rest can help the adults in the school to return ready to build on the positive relationships they’ve created with their students. A third reason to support Spring Break is that it allows the school to be thoroughly cleaned! The custodial staff uses the break as a time to maintain the school and accomplish tasks that can’t be completed when the building is in use.
How do you plan to spend your Spring Break?
Whether you are “for or against” Spring Break, if your children have one, you better make some plans. If the goal of the break is to rest and relax, then take a look at how your family likes to relax. Do you like to go on vacations? Take outings in the city? Spend time together at home? One of these will be what is best for your family and will help you all to enjoy your Spring Break and achieve the goal of rejuvenation. Here are some ideas for making your break a custom fit to your family’s needs:
- Decide on Vacation or Downtime- which does your family want/need?
- Have a “Staycation” Stay home and see the sights around your community
- Plan ahead for each day to have a theme (Couch Potato Day, Read aloud Day, No Tech Day, Yes Day)
- Do something you have never tried before (Go Ziplining, Go Axe Throwing, Check out a National Historical Site, Have a Winter Picnic, Try Snowshoeing, Organize a neighborhood Tug of War)
- Create a Rube Goldberg Machine (check out this link)
- Chose a day to do kinds deeds for your neighbors, friends or family
- Volunteer at a local charity
It’s all about family
Spring Break is a perfect time to build family relationships and create traditions. There are millions of ideas online for ways to make your break fun and not spend a fortune. Keep your focus on the goal of rest and rejuvenation and your family will thank you.