Many adults have fond memories of snow days as a time when they could stay home from school and get the chance to play and frolic in the snow with siblings and friends. For most kids, waiting in the morning to hear about the school closures while still in pajamas, hoping to hear the name of their own school, was a snow day ritual.

Today’s youngsters undoubtedly feel much the same way, but parents now know that a snow day isn’t just a day of fun for the kids, but also a lost learning opportunity.

The Problem with Snow Days

A snow day here and there may not be much of a concern, but too many snow days actually causes problems for students, parents, and teachers. If both parents work, then a child staying home from school can present an issue. Additionally, schools need to administer a specific amount of days of schooling each year, and that time off must be made up elsewhere if there are too many snow days, often during what should have been vacation breaks or at the end of the school year. Again, this can also affect the plans of parents.

Teachers too are affected, whether it’s interruptions to their lesson plans or the extra burden of trying to make up the lost time so that children have the knowledge they need to adequately prepare for state-mandated tests scheduled on a specific date.

Combating the Loss of Learning

Recently, several schools have addressed the problem of numerous snow days by instituting a novel new program to avoid the disruption of learning. Called cyber snow days or at-home learning days, it involves teaching children while they are at home—by either providing them with materials to read or assignments to complete before the day off or via online video and communication.

Other schools have adopted similar concepts with different names. But the purpose remains the same: to ensure students receive the learning they need despite being home from school.

How Parents Can Help

Even if a child’s school does not yet have its own version of at-home learning days, parents can still help ensure that the time off is not spent entirely on snowballs and sledding. They can take the time to work with their children on a project or help them review subjects that they might be having trouble in. Speaking to the child’s teacher about assignments and homework in advance of snow days may also be helpful.

The Future of Snow Days

In this age of digital technology and online collaboration, will snow days become a thing of past? So far, it depends on the school. But schools that have implemented these cyber learning days, or “e-learning bundles” as teachers in Indiana call it, are finding it helpful. “The main thing that we noticed last year is that those days we had to miss due to the weather were really important to us,” a principal at Triton Middle School told the IndyStar newspaper. “Those were the crucial time to prepare students for standardized assessments.” So far the school reports positive feedback on their program to turn snow days into learning days. Through the use of collaboration and technology, at-home learning days are a great opportunity for children to stay on track. Of course, students in online schools have been enjoying the benefits of consistent learning even on snow days for years. If you think learning and collaborating online may benefit your student, visit K12.com to learn more about virtual public schools.

What do you think? Should snow days become learning days?

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