School's in for summer? More Peel students now attending classes year-round

While most GTA kids bask in the dog days of summer, one Brampton elementary school is in its second week of classes. The school's principal says it's for their own good.

Principal says shorter, more frequent breaks lead to better learning, happier teachers

A smattering of schools across Canada, including Tony Pontes Public School in Brampton, have revised the standard two-month summer vacation. (Shutterstock)

While most GTA kids bask in the dog days of summer, one Brampton elementary school is in its second week of classes.

"The first two weeks in October is a fantastic time to have a vacation," said Sheryl Johnston, principal of Tony Pontes Public School.

It's the third school in Peel region to move to a year-round, or "balanced" school schedule, and Johnston is promoting it as a new way of looking at the standard school year.

Come February, "when I think everyone needs a holiday, we'll have one week off," Johnston quipped. She was previously the principal at Roberta Bondar Public School, the first school in Peel region to change schedules.

Roberta Bondar was also the subject of a four-year study comparing the benefits and drawbacks of the balanced system with the traditional model.

Traditional school year versus modified school year. (Natalie Holdway/CBC Graphics)

"There was a statistically significant difference made in learning loss," explained Johnston, adding that teachers could skip reviewing material and "jump right back into learning," because students hadn't forgotten large amounts of material due to a two-month break.

Furthermore, the balanced system especially benefits second-language learners as "not being around English speakers for two months in the summer could have a negative impact," she said. 

The study looked at health effects of the balanced calendar, finding the model decreased the number of sick days teachers took, which also led to stability for students.

"There's always a vacation around the corner, there's always something to look forward to," Johnston told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Tuesday.

Sheryl Johnston, principal of Tony Pontes Public School, has experienced both traditional and year-round school calendars as a teacher and administrator. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

Johnston herself recalled counting the days until the end of June. But now, she said, "we are not as tired in that timeframe between September and December because we've had a holiday in there to recharge."

And another added bonus, this one for moms and dads: "it's actually easier for many parents to take their holidays in October."

Johnston hopes to see the program expand to other regions. 

With files from Metro Morning