I'm not quite ready for the paradigm shift to year-round-school. However, like many teachers, I am concerned with that "summer brain drain" that inevitably happens when younguns are separated from the oppressive tyranny of teachers for the months of July and August... I don't know about you, but the "three month summer vacation" is long gone where I live. June is for school.
It struck me yesterday (as my ninth grade students were having one of those so-good-it-gives-the-teacher-goosebumps discussions of how various literary elements and author's decision making influence the manifestation of unversal themes) how incredibly far my students have come as critical thinkers. With four days of class before the final exam--then a long stretch with no regular exercise of that mental muscle--my worry crystallized sharply.
Of course, I encourage my students to always have a book they are reading for fun--fiction preferably, but a good biography or nonfiction tome is equally wonderful. In my close-of-the-year parent mailer, I encourage small bites of learning: car-ride discussions of books, online free math games that actually involve computation not monkeys shooting darts at balloons, setting up routine family trips to the library. As we might assume, the students who get this kind of family support and structure are not necessarily the ones who need it most.
What do schools do, or what can they do, or what should they do to keep the minds of students growing over the summer?