Snow Days: Challenges for Traditional Schools
While many of us are itching for spring by now, this winter has been lots of fun. I’ve been able to play in deep snow, slide on the frozen pond, and have some fun sledding! I’ve honestly missed having snow the past two years when it seems to disappear before it really gets settled. Some things have really slowed down as I’ve found myself spending more quality time with my family. I can definitely relate to Jamie from Simple Homeschool’s article about hibernation. I haven’t been documenting my life as much as I’ve been trying to live it this winter.
While it’s been fun to have snow and winter weather, we’ve also had more snow days than ever. I hate to be the “when-I-was-your-age” person, but … I grew up in Canada, if we cancelled school for snow and cold, we’d all be illiterate!
The worst part about snow days, for me, is that I’m a teacher in an online school. I can see my kids playing outside in the snow, waving at me while I sit at my computer in math class. I do get an occasional “internet day” but nothing like the time they get.
While it’s fun to joke about snow days, they pose some serious challenges to students and families that are alleviated when you’re part of an online school. Here are a few to consider:
Academic catch up
The primary purpose of school is for academic instruction. Snow days put an unplanned break in the flow of learning. I know that my children have a weekly schedule at school. They have homework assignments Monday through Thursday, reading assignments each day, and some larger projects mixed in there. When they have a snow day, it throws them off and they don’t get as much out of the rest of the week.
School presentations or major projects
I know it may not seem like a big deal to adults, but to kids presenting in front of a class is a huge deal. My daughter had a presentation for her science class, and she got herself prepared for it, just to have it pushed back. She still jumped for joy when schools were closed, but I think secretly she would rather have gone in and been able to get her presentation done. The same goes for major tests, when a student puts in time to study and prepare, adding another day of waiting does not help.
Uncertainty of time off and end of year
Families make plans for spring break and summer vacation based on the school’s academic calendar. When we have close to twenty snow days it throws that schedule off. It is challenging enough to get students to focus during the last few weeks of school without them having the added knowledge that they could already be done.
I hope you got the chance to get out and enjoy the snow this winter. But hopefully we’re done with snow days for a quite a while!
Eric Buffington teaches high school algebra for K12. He loves to witness his students "light bulb" moments when they understand something they didn't understand before. He has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from King's College and a master's degree in Educational Leadership from Wilkes University.