When public schools first began, there was no such thing as a summer break. Many people have been told the myth that an agriculturally based economy was the original reason for summer break. However, planting season for farmers was in the spring, and harvest was in the fall.
In fact, it wasn’t until the urbanization of the United States that summer vacation became the norm. Cities packed with people and concrete buildings are the real reason schools began offering summer vacations since many families would “summer” in cooler locations, and schools were basically ovens during the hot summer months during a time when air conditioning didn’t exist. No breeze floated through the windows, so half-empty classrooms were the motivation for shutting down school and starting back up in the fall.
In both brick-and-mortar schools and in the online school community, a lot of debate surrounds the question of whether young people need an extended summer break. One of the great parts about attending a self-paced online school with a flexible schedule is that you get to decide when and how long your school breaks are. At Northgate Academy, students have 12 months to complete their grade level set of six courses. During that twelve-month period, you get to decide when and if you take an extended break from schoolwork.
As an online student, you might wonder if taking longer breaks is beneficial to you, or if you should instead take shorter vacation breaks more often throughout your school year. There are a lot of benefits to taking one or two longer breaks, but there are also some drawbacks to consider. To help you make solid decisions about when you should schedule your vacation breaks and for how long, here are some things to consider.
Benefits of Taking a Break
Whether you’re taking short breaks more often or one extended break during your online school year, taking some time away from your schoolwork will help you avoid overload. Online students in a flexible program like the ones we offer at Northgate Academy can be tempted to work nonstop so that they can graduate early from high school. While we do let students graduate early, it’s also advisable to take a break sometimes to give yourself an opportunity to think of things outside of academics. You can accomplish this on shorter breaks or longer, extended breaks regardless of the time of year.
One of the nice aspects of a self-paced, flexible online program is that you can arrange your own schedule. This means that if you have an opportunity to participate in a social event and need to take a long weekend to do so, you can! If friends of yours have spring break at a certain time, and you are invited to travel with their family, your spring break can automatically align with theirs. Let’s say that your grandparents would like to travel someplace warm over the winter months, and they’d like to go with them for a longer period of time. This is completely possible through our online program. Students who attend online school through Northgate get to make up their calendars, making your break truly yours as long as you complete your grade level within 12 months after enrollment.
Another important reason to take a break from academics is to explore new interests. Some opportunities only come once, and it’s okay to take a pause in your academics to take advantage of them. You might have a chance to participate in a mission trip with your youth group that requires you to pause your academics for two weeks. You can do that with a flexible online school. You might get a chance to meet your favorite author at a book signing or writer’s workshop, and you need to take a long weekend to do that. You could identify a need in your community and need to take some time off to organize a fundraiser, food drive, or coat drive. Your schedule is yours to arrange so that you don’t miss opportunities that only come once in a while.
You might want to take an extended break to work more hours at a job, or you might want to arrange your school schedule so that you complete all of your schoolwork in four days and work three days each week. This is okay, too. Giving yourself time to earn money for college or a car is an important way that a flexible schedule provides you with freedom. Not everything in your life can be about academics, and Northgate Academy encourages you to reap the full benefits of being an online high school student.
Drawbacks of Taking Long Breaks
When you’re thinking about how long you might want your breaks to be, you will want to consider a few things as well. Taking very long breaks, even as long as a month, can cause you to experience skill regression, so even though it’s important to recharge, you’ll want to make sure you’re spending some time reading and engaging your brain. That way, you can come back to your academics without feeling mentally sluggish.
Boredom and poor habits are additional side-effects of longer breaks. If you’re the kind of students who gets bored easily and likes to stay on the go, your best bet might be to aim for more of a year-round school calendar where you work on school for fewer days during the week, and fill your longer weekends with activities and interests. A longer break can cause you to get out of practicing good habits and can really sort of numb your brain, causing boredom. By taking longer weekend breaks and maintaining a set schedule filled with activities you enjoy, you’ll stay stimulated and in tune with the good habits you’re consistently practicing.
Anxiety can increase due to lack of consistency, so if you struggle with anxiety, taking a long break from academics can actually be worse for you than you might realize. Without a consistent schedule, your mind and body lose a sense of security. In cases such as these, an alternative break system might be best. You can keep your sense of consistency, but arrange for breaks that work best for your mental health needs, activities, and schedule.
You have a lot of options when you’re an online student in a self-paced, flexible program. If you’re interested in enrolling at Northgate and making these options a part of your high school experience, you can easily enroll online. If you’ve got questions, we’ll be happy to answer them. You can feel free to call us at 800-339-7132 or text us at 763-412-4701.