Since when did kids start school in the middle of August? August is a summer month, not a school month. Even though my 3-kids have all graduated from college, I am representing the thousands of kids who have to get ready for school in the hottest month of the year. August is beach weather. It is perhaps the best beach month of the calendar as the June, July overcast has usually burned off leaving nothing but hot and clear skies. The water is also at it’s warmest…perfect for a day or week’s vacation at the beach. Even if your not a beach goer hanging out in the swimming pool is what August is on the calendar for. I feel sorry for the groups of kids I see making their way home from school in mid-August, particularly those in school uniforms. It is still summer vacation time, time to be in shorts, swim suits and barefeet. Time to see movies in air-conditioned theaters, have sleep overs, play basketball, and yes, read. The dog days of summer should be spent poolside, not in class. Heck, we just had 4th of July celebrations weeks prior…now school? Growing up Labor Day marked the the end of summer and not just another sale at Carpets ‘R Us. The public pools closed, the ice cream truck made it’s last round and school started the next day. We loaded up our new backpacks, put on our new school clothes and made our way to the first day of school, the way it was meant to be. Now, Labor Day is a three-day-weekend complete with homework. End of summer as an event is gone – the last hurrah – the final friendly barbeque with friends and family. The start of school is no longer universal meaning some kids start August 11 or August 18 and so on. What a drag it must be to hear other kids jumping in the pool while your coming home from school in triple-digit heat. It just isn’t right. Trying on new school clothes is a drag enough for kids to endure – imagine it being 90 degrees and humid and your trying on long pants, hoodies and sweatshirts when all you really need is new t-shirts and shorts. The main reason that I could find for the earlier start has to do with standardized testing. The kids starting school in August can take their test before winter break while the information is still fresh in their heads versus taking the test upon returning from break and their heads are empty or full of Sponge Bob cartoons. Low scores on these standardized tests means some schools would lose too much funding…sounds logical without knowing any of the details.
I have fond memories of my childhood summer vacations. It seemed they would last forever and each day was an eternity. Waking up with nothing to do except explore new territories on our bikes, or swimming for hours at a time until our eyes turned blood red from the chlorine. On particularly hot days our parents would drop us off at the old Montrose Theater and leave us there for a double-feature, or at a bowling alley. The YMCA was always open, but that would usually get boring after a few hours – too much supervision when you feel like Tom Sawyer. Then one week per summer we would take a family vacation which was either a hit or miss. The best vacations were spent at a rented beach house enjoying the surf and sand and staying in one spot for a week. The worst trips involved road trips that included several stops and a lot of arguing. I guess that’s the one advantage to having kids starting school early…the hotel and vacation get-a-ways now start dropping their rates in late August. But I would easily give that up to see schools designate the day after Labor Day as the official start day. It has worked for decades…it has only been in the last 10-years that schools moved up the date. The whole month of August is officially summer and should be part of summer vacation.