"For some kids, summer breaks can be lonely, boring and even dangerous," says columnist Anne Michaud ["Summer is the weak link in U.S. education," July 5]. Her solution is extending the school year.

What about those of us who have sacrificed careers so that we could be home with our kids during the summer? My summer time home gives my kids the opportunity to do what they can't do in school. We spend time swimming, visiting parks, playing board games, making up silly stories, taking walks and creating new games.

Schools have become more about test preparation and standardization, and less about creativity and individualism. For 10 weeks, my children learn through play, not by taking another practice test. It's time for parents to take responsibility for their kids' education and stop relying on the government to raise their children.

Kim Coluccio, Kings Park

This column highlights a fundamental problem with American education. "Summer learning loss," as it is sometimes labeled, is the primary reason that the educational system in the United States has fallen in international standings.

Much of what our children learn is perishable knowledge. The tradition of long summer vacations is especially detrimental in math and science, where children are always building on the foundation that they established during the prior school year.

Unfortunately, any significant extension of the school year would have numerous negative effects. Our economy would suffer from reduced vacation and travel spending. School districts around the country would revisit teacher contracts and possibly increase taxes.

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Instead, Internet-based learning administered over the summer vacation could significantly diminish the loss of knowledge from the prior year, with six to eight assignments in math, science and writing. The student's homeroom teacher for the upcoming school year could be responsible for overseeing summer learning.

Americans have to decide if they want to invest in our nation's ability to compete in the global economy.

Ken Bombace, Mount Sinai