For every student who can’t wait to hit the doors at the end of the year, there are plenty more who worry about what their summer will bring. One of my students told me about her father remarrying and how she doesn’t really like her soon-to-be stepmom. There could be plenty of reasons why the two don’t mesh, but overall, this girl is dreading a long vacation at home.
When I first began teaching, I didn’t see the benefit of year-round schools. Besides research findings that show academic growth with year-round schools, there are other reasons to consider. The students I teach have just hit an age where they can be left to care for younger siblings. Because the parents need to earn money to support the family, the students face a summer alone, caring for younger siblings, and housekeeping. With parents off working, there aren’t many options for going to the library or attending camps because their work schedule may change weekly and no one can take them. Others face bare cupboards and empty stomachs. There are plenty of programs out there to help, but now I see how having shorter breaks more often throughout the year would really benefit these students.
For some, school provides the only structured place for security. During the last few days, these students tend to either retreat into their shyness or act out so severely, they spend time in in-school suspension or are sent home early. It’s almost as if they want to control the day they have to leave school, rather than dread the inevitable seclusion back home.
There are plenty of kids who race to the busses with visions of swim-filled days, barbecues, and bike-riding when that last bell sounds, but I think people would be surprised how many students secretly long for the stability school brings. While I’m excited for those students who can’t wait for summer fun, I’m always worried about the others, making the last day bittersweet.
What do you find bittersweet?