Awty's Fall Break
On Friday, September 29, 2023, students at The Awty International School finish school and begin "Fall Break," a week-long holiday usually in the first week of October every school year. Awty indeed has such a break every six to seven weeks during the school year, including Thanksgiving break, holiday break, a week-long break in February, and a week-long break in April.
In this way, Awty somewhat mirrors the French school vacation system, where children attend school for seven weeks at a time and then have two weeks of rest for every seven-week period, while at the same time having somewhat longer school days.
The schools in France follow this ”seven weeks of work and two weeks of rest” system because of a French minister who in the 1980s postulated that the ideal rhythm for children to learn was one that alternated several weeks of work with a break to rest, in order to let the accumulated knowledge consolidate itself. Here at Awty, our system is slightly different in that the school community only takes a week of vacation except for the holiday break. Still, the reasoning behind this system tracks that of the French schools: this break provides a time for reflection on recent studies and allows the students to recharge and be well-rested when they come back to study again.
During this break, I take a few days to rest. I reconnect with friends and spend time with my family. I truly take a full break from school. Most significantly, much as the French minister postulated in the 1980s, during the break, I often think back at what I learned over the past several weeks. Although teachers generally do not assign any homework during the break to allow the students to have a complete rest, I do take this time to plan what I will be doing when I return to school, for projects or otherwise.
In short, I believe that our system at Awty of alternating periods of several school weeks followed by a week-long break helps students learn better. This system keeps students from getting too tired over the course of the school year; it keeps students engaged because they are more rested when they return from the break.
I thus wanted to share with our larger community one aspect of our "secret sauce" for keeping our students energized and engaged without fear of burnout: a week-long break every few weeks. As to the question of whether the students lose valuable education time under such a system, I would answer no as this time is balanced with more hours of school time at other times — and as the success of our students speaks for itself.
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