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First Day of School: A New Fifth Grader!

August 1st, 2012 (10:44 pm)

Today was my son's first day of fifth grade. Here is a photo I took of him in front of the school when we arrived this morning. He's growing so fast! He had a great day today and is looking forward to a great year.
P1070808 1st day of 5th grade, 50% & cropped
Since I know someone will ask, I'll explain that yes, his school does start on August 1, much earlier than most. He goes to one of two public schools in the city with a "modified calendar." It's similar to what's often called a year-round calendar.

Our modified calendar allows for a summer break, but only for five weeks. The traditional-calendar schools have eleven weeks. Teachers like our calendar because it improves learning retention; they don't have to spend as much time reviewing. With our school population, this is particularly important. A lot of our students are native Spanish speakers who would otherwise go for eleven weeks speaking little or no English.

The shorter summer break also means less time for kids to get bored.

We have the same number of school days as other schools because we have extra breaks throughout the year: two weeks in October, an extra week at winter break, and two extra weeks at spring break. During those breaks the school offers remedial help and optional "fun" classes. (But there will be no classes this year during the January break; it was a budget cut.) Parents can continue to send their children to school during breaks that have "intersession" classes, with regular school hours, bus service, and lunch. My son has taken courses in sailing (yes, they took the kids out in boats on the Potomac), Harry Potter potions (a fun introduction to chemistry), and World Cup Soccer (soccer sprinkled with geography lessons). In one of his intersession classes last spring, the kids wrote and performed in plays about the Civil War.

Another advantage of having extra weeks off at different parts of the year is that you can take a family vacation in October, January, or April.

We love our modified calendar!


Posted by: the artist formerly known as kytyn (melydia)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2012 01:24 pm (UTC)

Man, I wish I could be on that sort of schedule for work. I'd love to take little short courses every few months. I'd say I'd have preferred that as a kid too but it's hard to say.

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