Year-round school can help parents with summertime costs for kids

Click to play video: 'Summer break and the big question: what to do with your children?' Summer break and the big question: what to do with your children?
WATCH: What are you going to do with your children during the summer break? Dr. Marilynne Waithman discuses the options for parents and the benefits of year round schooling – Jun 23, 2016

Most schools in B.C. follow a traditional calendar, with between eight and 10 weeks of summer holiday.

But a few schools in the province have an altered calendar and are considered year-round schools.

Kanaka Creek Elementary School in Maple Ridge is one of those schools. Students are in class for 12 weeks and then out of class for four – December, April and August.

“It was something that was started up by School District 42 and it’s been maintained as an option for parents,” said principal Gwyneth Dixon-Warren.

Summer can be an expensive time for parents. After looking at a range of options, summer camps can cost anywhere between $80 to more than $750 per week/per child.

READ MORE: Breaking down the numbers: Can parents afford summertime care costs?

At an altered calendar school, parents still have to find camps or childcare for the same amount of days their children are out of school, but the time period is shorter.

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“I would say the parents at Kanaka Creek really love the model for sure,” said Dixon-Warren. “Some choose because it’s geographically close and some others because the model really works for them.”

“There’s definitely families that like the fact that they can maintain routine over the course of the year because the breaks are somewhat even. But I think learning comes in all different ways. At the end of the day we’re getting the same amount of instructional time and the same amount of break time.”

For families at Kanaka Creek, the routine seems to work well for them and their schedule.

“At the end of the day it is a fabulous calendar and I think it is one of the unique things our district offers for parents, should they be interested in enrolling their child in a slightly different system,” said Dixon-Warren. “But recognizing it is the same amount of instructional minutes, it is the same amount of time off, it’s just slightly altered. It does give flexibility for the families that choose to have it.”

“You don’t really get out of a routine. You get your four weeks and then sleeping pattern, homework patterns and all that kind of stuff maintains because it’s less of a time [off].”

The year-round schools in B.C. are:

  • Spul’u’kwuks Elementary and Garden City Elementary in Richmond
  • Douglas Park Spul’u’kwuks Elementary Community (Elementary) in Langley
  • Kanaka Creek Elementary in Maple Ridge
  • Cataline Elementary in Cariboo-Chilcotin
Dr. Marilynne Waithman, an adjunct professor in Educational Studies, Faculty of Education, at UBC, said there are not many in the province because most people are “very ingrained in [their] view of the traditional school year.”
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“People have, I think, a romanticized view of summer vacation, when children can go camping and swimming with their parents, visit their grandparents, have enrichment opportunities. So parents are generally not supportive because of that belief.”

Waithman said many factors have to come together to create a year-round school.

“Once people experience it they find a lot of the negative concepts around it are not actually true.”

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