Choosing a school for your children is a major decision, one that some of us lose sleep over.
Thankfully, West Michigan offers a multitude of school (and preschool) options.
Since you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re wondering if a Year-Round School is right for you.
We’re here to help! Start by reading this article and then contact one of West Michigan’s balanced calendar schools (listed below) for more information – it’s a great place to start when deciding what school is right for you.
Attending Year-Round School in West Michigan
I’ve had visions of walking my kids to school or the bus stop since before I had kids, but I’ve come to accept that I will never have those experiences.
In fact, we’ve willingly signed up for a 20-minute to drive to – and from – our son’s school each day.
Our choice to drive this far for school is not typical. Most people at our school live pretty close to the building. However, I’m hearing of more and more families making the same choice to drive long distances to and from school each day.
We sacrifice our time (and gasoline!) because we value the experience and education provided by a year-round school.
Plus, there are opportunities for off-season travel that most schools can’t offer.
5 Reasons Why I Chose a Year-Round School for My Son
Sometimes called a balanced calendar school, a year-round school does not, in fact, run year-round. However, the opportunities for learning and information retention, in many cases, are greatly increased over those of traditional-schedule schools.
1. Shorter Summer Breaks
It sounds weird to say it out loud, but we like our summer break to be shorter.
Kids often get very antsy in the middle of summer break. In fact, many of my friends with kids on a traditional school schedule struggle to keep things running smoothly at home during the last weeks of summer. The kids are bored and the parents are all out of ideas.
Our balanced calendar school typically offers summer break from mid-June to mid-August. It’s long enough to relax and unwind without being too long.
2. We Enjoy More Breaks Throughout the Year
Having a shorter summer break allows the school to schedule more breaks throughout the year.
This means my family can take vacations at times that work for us – and save on the budget!
A year-round school year has the same number of days as a traditional school year. The main difference is that school breaks are spread out differently, making opportunities for off-season vacations abundant.
Last year we spent a week in October in Chicago, and let my son spend an entire week in February at Grandma’s house. This year we took the entire week of Thanksgiving off to spend at my parent’s house and had just over two weeks of time off of school at Christmas.
3. Chances to For Kids to Catch Up
Many balanced calendar schools will also offer a week-long make-up session (sometimes called supplemental week) twice a year during a break for students who need a little extra help.
They can use this time to get a handle on the material they don’t understand or catch up if they’re behind, or work ahead if that’s what they need to do.
During the make-up sessions, teachers and staff will be on hand and the school will start and stop at the same time, as usual, each day.
4. Better Information Retention
Have you ever noticed that during the 10-week long summer break, children often forget how to do tasks that they were previously the masters of?
With a shorter summer break, kids are more likely to retain the information they learned during the school year.
Bonus: The extra breaks peppered in throughout the year give the kids a chance to regulate and fully enjoy their childhood during each season.
5. We Enjoy the “Breathing Room”
As I said earlier, there are multiple small breaks throughout the year in a Balanced Calendar School.
These breaks give kids, parents, and teachers much-needed breathing room from the rigmarole that is the constant battle to get kids to school on time, get through the day, and pick them up again. This schedule helps keep all of us from feeling “burned out.”
When I’m tired of constantly fighting to get homework done, always have lunchbox-ready food on hand, and get my son to and from school, I know that very soon there will be another small break. The same concept holds true for the kids and the teachers.
Challenges Stemming from Year-Round Schools
Before signing up for a year-round school in Grand Rapids, it’s good to consider some of the challenges associated with this type of schedule.
1. Childcare Can Be Tricky for the “Off” Weeks
Arranging childcare on sporadic weeks off throughout the year is one of the main reasons more parents don’t sign their kids up for a balanced calendar school.
Some schools offer childcare during these times, so inquire about options before letting this be the factor that derails your plans.
2. Having Multiple Children on Different School Schedules Is Not Easy
Most year-round schools in our area stop at 5th or 8th grade.
If you have children in different grades, it’s very possible that one of your kids will have school well into June while the other’s last day of school is at the start of the month.
And those special fall weeks off? Your high school student will not get the fall break, but your younger one will.
Do you pull your older kid out of school to take that fall trip? Or do you leave them behind with a relative?
Year-Round Schools in Grand Rapids
If you still think year-round school is a good option for your family, keep reading.
Grand Rapids has three balanced calendar schools, Caledonia has one, and Zeeland has two.
Ridge Park Charter Academy 4120 Camelot Ridge Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 | 616-222-0093
Ridge Park is a Y5 – 8 charter school run by National Heritage Academies. The school is free, but admission is based first on those already in attendance and their siblings, then an application process, followed by a lottery system if there is an overflow of those interested in attending.
Evergreen Program 1630 Griggs St. SE, Grand Rapids MI 49506 | 616-574-5900
Evergreen Program is a Pre-k – 5 school run by Grand Rapids Christian Schools. Admission does require tuition, although financial aid is available and will be explained following the application and acceptance process.
Hope Academy of West Michigan 240 Brown Street SE, Grand Rapids MI 49507 | 616-301-8458
Hope Academy of West Michigan is a tuition-free public school, serving students from preschool through high school in Grand Rapids, MI.
They help students and the families of students who are struggling to be successful in school.
Zeeland Quest 175 West Roosevelt Road, Zeeland, 49464 | 616-748-3050
Zeeland Quest is a K – 8 school run by Zeeland Public Schools. Admission is based first on those already in attendance and their siblings then an application process. Priority will be given to those within Zeeland Public School districts and then all others will be placed into a lottery system.
iCademy Global 8485 Homestead, Zeeland, MI 49464 | 616-748-5637
iCademy Global is a TUITION FREE K-12 public school and is available to any Michigan resident, regardless of where you live in the state. They function on functions on a balanced calendar (early August – mid-June). Students attend in approximately 6-week chunks, with a one-week break in between sessions. Students may be fully remote or interact in person on the Homestead Campus in Zeeland.