Holiday breaks might conjure up images of days at the pool or more time spent playing with friends in the snow. While this might be typical for traditional schools, does it ring true for cyber schools? Online schools are more flexible and often self-paced, so they don’t always follow the classic academic schedule, but it really depends on the school. Most online schools have breaks of some kind.
Let’s explore what cyber school holidays look like and how to request additional breaks if needed.
How Do Online Schools Decide on Breaks?
Online schools can have a wide variety of schedules. Classes might range anywhere from as short as one month to the entire school year, and some schools have certain milestones, like standardized testing, that occur at the same time every year. If an online school does have breaks, they might use them to “bookend” modules and classes or milestones, free up time to observe holidays, or both.
Some of the factors that contribute to the decision to have breaks include:
- How the school year is organized: The length of a school’s courses or semesters could determine how they use breaks. For example, a school that runs year-round may have more short breaks instead of one long summer break.
- Course timing: Online schools can use synchronous or asynchronous schedules. Synchronous learning occurs in real-time, such as over a video call with the entire class. In contrast, asynchronous learning involves a time lag between the instructor and the learning, like when a teacher uploads a webinar and has students submit assignments when it works for them. Asynchronous schools may not feel the same need for breaks.
- How schoolwork is assigned: Self-paced models allow students to work on their homework when they can. Often, teachers make all assignments available from the start of the semester. A break might not be as helpful here, either.
Taking Breaks in a School’s Academic Calendar
Taking breaks can be a great time to recharge and spend time with family and friends. They’re also an opportunity for kids to learn valuable social and workforce skills. Some of the ways students and schools might use planned breaks include:
- Going on vacations: Many families use scheduled school breaks as an opportunity to take vacations. Kids get to see the world and bond with their families.
- Taking part in community programs: Most communities have summer programs available to help kids learn specific skills and socialize in different environments. These programs might look like going to camp for a week or taking part in a STEM program for girls. Other classes might address the needs of unique student populations, such as a self-advocacy class for students with disabilities.
- Working a job: Older students can use their summer breaks to start working, learning the value of money and developing skills for the workforce.
- Get ahead or catch up on schoolwork: Students can also use breaks to get ahead on their assignments and readings or catch up. Breaks can also be helpful for tackling larger projects.
- Explore hobbies: Students can play around with different activities and learn what they like.
Many of these activities outside of the typical school curriculum have been associated with benefits for student development, such as improved social skills, self-esteem, attendance, physical health, and achievement scores.
Still, some online schools find that their flexible schedules already allow for plenty of time for these activities. If a school uses asynchronous, self-paced learning, families may already be able to alter their schedules as they need to accommodate activities and family vacations. It might be enough for teachers to relax due dates around holidays. It all depends on the school and the needs of its students.
Can You Request Breaks in Online Schools?
If your student attends an online school that doesn’t have traditional breaks, you may find that you need one. Whether you’re trying to plan a family vacation, want them to take part in programs, or need time off due to an emergency, such as illness or a death in the family, there are several instances in which online school students need breaks.
Every school has different policies, and it’s best to consult the administration about breaks. Keep in mind that these breaks could affect the student’s course schedule, graduation path, and financial aid. For some classes, it might be as simple as providing the student access to assignments early, so they can work ahead and be ready for a week off. For other classes, it isn’t as straightforward. For instance, if the school only offers a course during the last fall quarter, a break might mean that the student would need to retake the class — and they wouldn’t be able to do so for another year.
The nature of your student’s classes, the typical academic calendar, and the reason for requesting a break will affect the school’s likelihood of accommodating additional breaks. Still, it’s always worth checking in with administrators and teachers.
When Does CCA Have Breaks?
Commonwealth Charter Academy has traditional breaks, including a long summer break and shorter spring, Thanksgiving, and winter breaks. We don’t hold Guided Instruction or Live Classrooms during these times, so both students and teachers get to enjoy some time off to recharge and grow. Over our Thanksgiving and winter breaks, the CCA offices also close. Thanksgiving break provides several days off around the holiday, and spring break does the same in the middle of April. Winter break starts a few days before Christmas and runs until the New Year.
CCA’s academic calendar starts with the first day of school in mid-September and ends with the last day in early June, with a nice summer break in between. CCA also observes the following holidays, during which we don’t hold Guided Instruction and Live Classrooms, and we close the CCA offices:
- Columbus Day: The second Monday in October
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day: The third Monday of January
- Presidents’ Day: The third Monday in February
- Memorial Day: The last Monday in May
In 2023, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on Jan. 16, and Presidents’ Day is on Feb. 20. Memorial Day will be on May 29.
The 2022-2023 school year will end on June 9.
Learn About Flexible, Self-Paced Online Learning at CCA
Finding a schedule that works for you and your family is a vital part of your child’s education. Breaks are an excellent time for students to rest and recharge, spend time with family, and learn a wide range of valuable life skills outside of school.
CCA offers these built-in breaks alongside a flexible, self-paced schedule. Our students use their breaks in various ways, from vacations to learning new hobbies to getting ahead on schoolwork. At CCA, we also offer a vast range of socialization opportunities, like field trips and clubs, so students can socialize and learn throughout the school year. If you need to make accommodations to your student’s schedule, we’re here to listen and help. Online school can be a great way to foster learning even with unique schedules.