Education Dictionary: Balanced Calendar

Many school systems have moved from a more traditional school calendar to one that is considered to be balanced. My school system recently moved to a form of a balanced school schedule.

A balanced school calendar reorganizes the school days in attempt to create a more continuous flow of teaching and learning. Instead of having one long break, students have more, shorter breaks throughout the school year. The breaks are usually strategically placed at the end of each grading period. During the break, some schools offer remediation and enrichment courses for students.

The advantages of a balanced calendar are thought to reduce student-learning loss. It also has a positive increase in student behavior and attendance. The balanced calendar includes an intersession for students and allows for vacations during the various seasons. The balanced calendar is thought to reduce teacher and student burnout and allow time for medical procedures and other appointments so teachers and students do not have to miss school.

There are also disadvantages of a school system moving to a balanced calendar. Schedules can be difficult for parents and children to coordinate. Summer programs may be affected. Teachers may not be able to hold summer jobs or continue schooling as once before. Extra-curricular sports and programs may require adjustments.

There are different variations of a balanced school calendar. Some schools take a two-week break between each grading period. Others take a longer break in the spring. My district’s plan did not include a dramatic change. Our calendar is basically the same with a few adjustments. We now have a fall break and attend school longer each day. However, we still have a summer break of about two months.

I can vouch for how having frequent breaks lessens burn out for teachers and students. We now have fall break in October. Before, we had no breaks from Labor Day in September until Thanksgiving in November. The fall break seems to refresh both teachers and students.

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