Students' activities during off-track vacation periods in a year-round school

Material Information

Students' activities during off-track vacation periods in a year-round school
Flaming, Nancy J
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
xiv, 212 leaves : illustrations, forms ; 28 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Year-round schools -- Case studies ( lcsh )
Vacations -- Case studies ( lcsh )
Students -- Recreation -- Case studies ( lcsh )
Students -- Recreation ( fast )
Vacations ( fast )
Year-round schools ( fast )
Case studies. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
Case studies ( fast )


Includes bibliographical references (leaves 188-192).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Doctor of Philosophy, School of Education and Human Development.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Nancy J. Flaming.

Record Information

Source Institution:
|University of Colorado Denver
Holding Location:
Auraria Library
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
23041663 ( OCLC )
LD1190.E3 1989d .F52 ( lcc )

Full Text
Nancy J. Flaming
B.S., Macalester College, 1959
M.A., University of Northern Colorado, 1979
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
School of Education

Copyright 1989
Nancy j. Flaming
All Rights Reserved

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy degree by
Nancy J. Flaming
has been approved for the
School of

Flaming, Nancy J. (Ph.D., Education)
Students' Activities During Off-Track Vacation Periods
in a Year-Round School
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Russell W.
This is a qualitative study of seven elementary
school students and their parents. The purpose of
the study was to determine and describe the activities
of elementary-school-age children during selected
vacation periods occurring in year-round calendar
schools. The following questions focused this study:
1. What do elementary school children do during
off-track vacation periods in a year-round
2. Do the activities of students during these
vacation periods differ if family circumstances
differ (e.g., single- or two-parent families,
ages of children in family, etc.)?
3. How do families plan for off-track vacation
periods that last three weeks or longer?
4. Are programs and activities available for
children during off-track vacation periods?
5. If available, do parents choose these
programs and/or activities for their children?

6. Do differences in family circumstances affect
the choice of children's activities?
Data gathering was accomplished through inter-
views, written or taped journals, and observations.
The students kept journals of their activities on five
selected days during a three-week vacation break in
their year-round school schedule. Additional data
were obtained from interviews with these students and
their parents, and observations of the students' off-
track activities. Student activity and child care
findings were analyzed and presented in descriptive
form in four major sections: 1) child care provided
during off-track vacation breaks; 2) results of child
care decisions; 3) activities of children during off-
track vacations; and 4) students' and parents'
attitudes toward the year-round calendar.
Major findings are: 1) the importance of child
care and supervision as major influences on children's
activities during off-track vacation periods;
2) patterns of child care are the result of family
preferences, financial resources, and necessity;
3) the intensity of supervision of the primary child
care provider influences the children's choice of
activities; 4) the number and kinds of children's

activities vary considerably, particularly for
students not enrolled in a parks and recreation
program; and 5) parents and students express positive
feelings about the year-round school calendar.
The form and content of this abstract are approved.
I recommend its publication.
Faculty member
of thesis

To my husband Karl
who taught me that
limits are imposed
only by one's inability
to dream

I am deeply grateful to Dr. Russell Meyers for
his ongoing guidance, and constant assistance and
support throughout this project. His suggestions for
rethinking and reinterpretation of the data and
implications were immensely appreciated, and his
mandate for excellence tempered by his patient
encouragement and constructive criticism made it
possible for this project to reach completion.
A very special thanks to the students and
families who gave of their time to participate in
this study. They were wonderful people, honest and
caring, and always ready to answer another question.
Finally, thank you to my family, my husband Karl,
and my children Todd, and Kyle, for their belief that
a "mother" can also be a "doctor." Their encourage-
ment, patience and sense of humor when the house
wasn't clean and the meals weren't on time was most
appreciated. My deepest appreciation goes to my hus-
band Karl, who discussed, probed, encouraged, typed
and gently pushed until this project was complete.

I. INTRODUCTION............................... 1
Historical Review......................... 4
Justification for the Study............... 6
Statement of the Research Problem. . 8
Definition of Terms...................... 11
Summary.................................. 11
II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE................... 13
Parental Attitudes Toward Year-
Round Schools.......................... 16
Child Care........................... 20
Activities............................... 24
Summary.................................. 26
Research Questions ...................... 27
Characteristics of Qualitative
Research............................... 29
Source of Data......................... 30
Nature of Data Collection.............. 31
Emphasis on Process.................... 31
Inductive Analysis .................... 32

Importance of Participant
Perspective........................ 3 3
Issues and Limitations in Qualitative
Research............................... 34
Researcher/Subject Relationship. . . 39
Data Collection.......................... 41
Selection of Sites..................... 42
Selection of Subjects................ 42
Data Gathering Schedule................ 43
Interviewing ........................ 44
Participant Self Reporting .......... 49
Observation.......................... 51
Analysis............................... 54
Contact Summary Sheets ............ 55
Data Review and Reduction............ 56
Coding............................... 57
Memoing.............................. 59
Typological Analysis ................ 60
Issues of Quality...................... 61
Reliability.......................... 61
Validity............................. 63
Triangulation........................ 65
Subject Reaction to Analysis .... 66
Summary................................ 67

IV. DATA ANALYSIS.............................. 68
Chadhaven School District................ 68
The Schools.............................. 72
Marcville Elementary .................. 72
Frankville Elementary.................. 73
Mounds Park Elementary ................ 75
Haas Elementary........................ 78
Child Care Portraits..................... 80
Jackie................................. 82
Neighborhood ........................ 82
Family and home...................... 82
Reactions to the year-round
schedule........................... 84
Off-track activities ................ 84
Child care provisions................ 86
. Rita................................. 88
Neighborhood ........................ 89
Family and home...................... 89
Reactions to the year-round
schedule........................... 91
Off-track activities ................ 92
Child care provisions................ 93
Karen................................. 95
Neighborhood ........................ 95
Family and home...................... 96

Reactions to the year-round
schedule........................... 97
Off-track activities............. . 97
Child care provisions................ 98
Dave.................................. 100
Neighborhood ........................100
Family and home......................101
Reactions to the year-round
Off-track activities ............... 104
Child care provisions................105
Jennifer ..............................107
Neighborhood ........................108
Family and home......................108
Reactions to the year-round
Off-track activities ............... 110
Child care provisions................112
Neighborhood ....................... 113
Family and home......................114
Reactions to the year-round
Off-track activities ............... 116
Child care provisions................121
Melanie............................... 121

Neighborhood ....................... 122
Family and home......................122
Reactions to the year-round
Off-track activities ....... 124
Child care provisions................129
Child Care Provided When School
Would Be in Session If Students
Were On-Track............................130
Why These Patterns Were Selected . . 136
Family preferences ................. 136
Financial resources..................139
Child preferences....................142
Impact of earlier decisions and
Results of Child Care Decisions. . . . 146
Frequency of Checks on Child .... 146
Degree of Free Time. ..................149
Degree of Planning and Structure . 151
Activities of Children During
Off-Track Vacations....................155
Students1 and Parents' Attitudes
Toward the Year-Round Calendar . . 161
Families with Children Attending
Schools on Different Calendars . 163
School Within a School ............... 164

AND RECOMMENDATIONS......................170
Summary of Findings......................171
Implications ........................... 175
Child Care.............................175
School Within a School ............... 178
Neighborhood Fragmentation ........... 179
Self-Care, Home Care or Community-
Sponsored Child Care Programs. . 181
Interactive/Parallel Play..............184
Recommendations for Schools,
School Districts, and Communities. 186
Recommendations for Further
APPENDICES................................ 193
B. MODIFIED B TRACK CALENDAR..................197
C. STUDY SYNOPSIS.............................200
D. CONSENT FORM ............................2 02
E. INTERVIEW GUIDES 1 AND 2...................204
F. CONTACT SUMMARY SHEET......................207
H. DATA SUMMARY SHEET.........................211

1. Vacation Period Schedules ............... 44
2. Student Names by Type of Child Care . . 130
3. Child Care Options Utilized ............. 135
4. Students' Activities During Off-Track
Vacation Breaks in a Year-Round School. 157

Year-round education has been debated by
educators for more than half of this century.
Throughout the last three decades much has been
written about year-round education, but the issues
surrounding the concept remain unresolved. School
districts throughout the United States have
experimented with various year-round calendars,
usually for the purposes of cost savings and/or
curriculum improvement. Examination of studies
conducted in school districts that have adopted a
year-round calendar indicates that many districts
studied the concept, adopted a year-round calendar,
indicated satisfactory achievement of many of the
goals and then discontinued the year-round school
calendar. Parental and community attitudes appear to
have had some influence upon this discontinuation
(McDaniel, 1976).
Research related to year-round schools appears
to revolve around five main issues (Richmond, 1977).

1. Financial. Does the year-round school
actually result in cost savings for a school
2. Attitudes. Do teachers, parents and
students express acceptance of and exhibit
positive attitudes toward the year-round school
3. Curriculum. Is the educational program of a
school positively or negatively affected by a
year-round calendar?
4. Types of Calendars. What are the various
calendars used by year-round schools?
5. Administration/Oraanization. What problems
are faced by administrators in organizing and
implementing the year-round calendar?
Parental attitudes have received little
attention in the literature on year-round schools.
"Typically, parent attitude is reported in negative
form and not systematically evaluated" (Merino, 1983,
p. 303). Examination of parental attitudes has not
determined whether the need to provide for children
and their activities during these off-track vacation
periods may precipitate some of the negative
attitudes. A study of year-round schooling in the

Pajaro Valley Elementary School District in
California found that Mexican-American parents held
strong negative attitudes about year-round schooling
because children were not able to work in the fields
during the summers (Merino, 1983).
A large sampling of attitudes toward year-round
schools was conducted in North Carolina and the
findings indicated that attitudes varied among
geographic and ethnic groups. Farmers expressed
negative attitudes toward year-round schools whereas
favorable attitudes toward a year-round schedule were
expressed by blacks (Carpenter, 1978, as reported by
Merino, 1983). Hill (1980) reported that most of the
randomly selected parents in a small community in
Hillsboro, Oregon, expressed positive attitudes
toward the initiation of a year-round schedule on the
condition that family members and neighborhood
children had the same vacation periods.
MacDonald and Anderson (1974) studied youth
agencies such as parks, little league, and church and
community centers after a 45-15 year-round program
had been implemented in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
They found that all agencies except the local Y1s had
to make adjustments in their programs and services

when schools adopted a year-round program, and that
few provisions were made for supervised playground
facilities year-round. Probinsky (1974) studied
changing family life patterns related to the 45-15
year-round calendar and found that parents reported
children were more likely to be bored during
vacations. Families in this study also reported
facing increased costs for recreation and vacation
These studies offer clues to the impact a year-
round calendar has on families in relation to
children's activities during off-track vacation
What students do during off-track vacation
periods when attending year-round schools has not
been examined. The literature on year-round schools
contains some information on parental attitudes, but
does not focus on the actual "happenings" in the day
of a child while on a 15-day vacation break in a
45-15 year-round school.
Historical Review
Year-round education has existed in the United
States since the early 1900s. In 1904, a Bluffton,

Indiana, elementary school began operation on an
extended school year design (a rotating four-quarter
plan). Educators generally agree that this was the
first year-round school in the United States
(Richmond, 1977, pp. 15-16). Prior to the 1960s
relatively few schools had adopted a year-round
calendar. Year-round education began to "catch on"
in the 1960s and early 1970s, largely because
taxpayers were less willing to give financial support
to schools and increasing student enrollments forced
schools into overcrowded conditions. Many school
districts in the United States experiencing rapid
growth during the early to mid 1970s were unable to
provide an adequate number of school buildings to
house and educate the rapidly growing school-age
population. Year-round school calendars enabled
school districts to house more students in existing
During the mid 1970s the year-round school
movement appeared to come to a halt (Shepard et al.,
1975). Few school districts changed to year-round
calendars from the mid 1970s through the mid 1980s.
In recent years however, the Los Angeles public
schools, faced with increasing numbers of minority

students in inner city schools, have adopted
year-round education as a.means to provide facilities
for these students without spending large amounts of
money for new buildings (Merino, 1983, p. 299).
The present decade of the eighties presents a
society that is vastly different than that of 20
years ago. The percentage of both parents in a
household working outside the home has grown
substantially. One-parent families are much more
prevalent, and providing children with activities
during off-track vacation periods of 15 days or more
throughout the year has become an issue for parents
and their children in the 1980s. Children are
increasingly in situations where there is a need to
provide for their activities and supervision. Year-
round schooling results in frequent periods of time
throughout the year where attention must be paid to
the activities in which children can and do engage.
Justification for the Study
The literature on year-round schools contains
little information on families and the activities of
children during vacation periods in a year-round
school. Much of the literature on year-round schools

is 15 to 25 years old. Some studies undertaken by
school districts as they contemplated implementation
of a year-round calendar probed parent, teacher and
student attitudes regarding a year-round calendar.
These surveys were often conducted at the same time
that information was disseminated, indicating that
year-round schools would eliminate the need for many
new school buildings, thereby saving taxpayers'
money. Thus attitudes were based upon a choice,
higher taxes for new buildings for a growing
population of school-age children, or more efficient
use of the school building by making use of summer
unused time periods to house a larger student
population in a given building.
Little has been written about the impact of the
year-round school on family life and the activities
of children during off-track time.- Richmond (1977)
indicated that his Issues in Year-Round Education
research provided a "comprehensive discussion of the
current and historical issues surrounding the
year-round school movement..." (p. 7). Yet the
activities children engage in during off-track
vacation periods were not discussed in that research.
Thus, the lack of research on children's activities

suggests the need to identify what children actually
do during the off-track vacation periods in
year-round schools.
This research reflects the assumption that
community life affects the quality of education
within a school just as the school plays a signifi-
cant role in parents' perceptions of public
education. This assumption is based upon the
researcher's experiences as an elementary school
teacher, a reading specialist at the elementary and
middle school level, and an elementary school
principal in both traditional calendar and year-round
calendar schools. These experiences have given the
researcher some insights into the impact that an
organizational schedule such as a traditional or
year-round calendar has on families and children's
activities. The researcher's original goal was to
determine and describe the activities of students
during off-track vacation periods.
Statement of the Research Problem
The research problem which this study addressed
was to determine and describe the activities of
children during their off-track vacation periods when

attending a year-round calendar school. The objec-
tive of the study was to determine how families plan
for these break periods within the school year, what
problems they face during these vacation periods, and
what perceptions they hold of the availability of
activities and/or child care for children during
these breaks within the school year.
This study began with the following general
1. What do elementary school children do during
off-track vacation periods in a year-round
2. Do the activities of students during these
vacation periods differ if family circumstances
differ (e.g., single- or two-parent families,
ages of children in family, etc.)?
3. How do families plan for off-track vacation
periods that last three weeks or longer?
4. Are programs and activities available for
children during off-track vacation periods?
5. If available, do parents choose these
programs and/or activities for their children?
6. Do differences in family circumstances
affect the choice of children's activities?

These questions and others that arose during the
collection of data focused this study.
The significance of this study lies with
information that it can offer to parents, school
administrators and boards of education when a change
of school calendars is contemplated. Parent
perceptions and the impact of school calendar
vacation periods upon family planning and work
schedules may offer school officials valuable
information when planning for school calendar
Year-round school schedules involve a great deal
of change for families of school-age children.
Because many community centers and social institu-
tions organize their activities in concert with the
traditional school calendar, a change to a year-round
calendar can cause many disruptions for a family.
Communities that study the potential impacts of
changing the school calendar and the impact of that
change on children, families, and institutions, may
benefit if the implementation of year-round schooling
is undertaken.

Definition of Terms
The terms used throughout this study are used as
defined here:
Year-Round Schools/Education: Schools operating
on a yearly calendar that allows students to occupy
the school building throughout the year while
attending school the same number of days as students
attending a traditional calendar school. Year-round
schools/education is not synonymous with extended
year education.
Children's Activities: Activities children
engage in during off-track times in the same hours
that they would be in school if on-track. Children's
activities as used in this study do not include
activities that take place before or after school.
This qualitative study of seven elementary
school students and their parents in one suburban
school district had the following delimitations which
influence the generalizability of the study findings:
1. The number of subjects and schools studied
was small, consistent with the study approach

2. The choice of subjects was governed by
family structure and school calendar.
3. The study focused on one off-track three-
week vacation break for each of the study families.
The results of the study are presented as
follows: Chapter I has introduced the research
topic. Chapter II presents a review of the
literature related to parental attitudes regarding
year-round schools, child care, and children's
activities. Chapter III discusses the methodology
used in this study. Chapter IV contains a
description of the school district, the schools
attended by the students, child care and student
activities' descriptions, and the findings which
emerged from the data analysis. Chapter V discusses
the major findings and their implications and makes
several recommendations for further research.

The purpose of this study was to determine and
describe the activities of children during their
off-track vacation periods when attending a
year-round calendar school. The focus of the
literature search was on descriptions of activities
children engage in, where these activities occur, who
is engaged in these activities, what arrangements
must be made for these activities and what activities
are available for children during off-track vacation
A search of the literature available on
children's activities, child care, vacation programs
and activities, day care, school recreation programs,
year-round schools and programs, school schedules,
and latchkey children, as well as other related
topics, provided virtually no information on what
children actually do when school is not in session
during periods between September and June. While
numerous books and articles described programs

offering before and after school care, these did not
describe the activities of children who were
participating in these programs. Information
describing what students actually do during their
vacations away from school is largely non-existent.
The search for literature related to the topic
under study began with a search of the literature on
latchkey children, children of working parents, work
and family, child care, year-round schools, vacation
programs and vacation activities of children and
their families. These searches were done at the
Norlin and Auraria Libraries of the University of
Colorado. A computer search at Denver University
Library was then completed, as well as a search of
dissertation abstracts on child care, self-care and
year-round schools. SEMBCS Professional Information
Center at Holly Ridge Center in the Cherry Creek
School District provided the researcher with
additional topics to search, and ERIC searches were
run on child care, child self-care, self-care, school
vacation activities and programs, lifestyles,
year-round education, year-round schools, latchkey
children, school-age child care, day care, enrichment
activities, recreational activities and programs,

school schedule, summer programs, summer schools,
school recreation programs and parent attitudes
toward day care, child care and year-round schools.
In addition, the bibliographies of each book,
journal or dissertation abstract read were searched
to gain new leads for terms that might prove
beneficial in gaining information on the topic. An
example of a typical ERIC search may help to illus-
trate the sparseness of the literature available. An
ERIC search of year-round schools/education was
completed with 84 abstracts printed. All 84
abstracts were read by the researcher and four proved
to provide some information related to this study.
The most valuable information came from citations and
bibliographies in books and journals.
This chapter reviews the literature on
year-round schools as it relates to the issues raised
for families regarding children's activities during
off-track vacation periods. The review also includes
studies that were concerned with school-age child
care and latchkey children.

Parental Attitudes Toward Year-Round Schools
Parental attitudes toward year-round schools
constitute one. category of literature reviewed.
Three dissertations were the primary sources.
Ricketts (1976) studied the attitudes of
parents, students, teachers and central office staff
toward Concept Six, a year-round school schedule, and
concluded that
parents will support Concept Six in preference
to double sessions, busing, or increased taxes.
Their degree of support will increase if an
entire attendance area (kindergarten through
twelfth grade) is on Concept Six. (p. 1888)
Aim's dissertation study (1976) attempted to
determine whether the citizens, parents, students,
teachers and staff in Sylmar, California, public
schools were favorably disposed to the year-round
school operation. He found that there were community
concerns regarding vacations and community recreation
facilities, among other things. Fifty-one percent of
the respondents in his survey reported that
"community recreation facilities were inadequate for
year-round use" (Aim, p. 3). Brown (1976) found no
significant relationship between the type of school
calendar and whether or not students attended summer
camp and/or Vacation Bible School. An additional

finding in his study was that there had been no
change in students' religious, "Y" and scouting
programs where a 45-15 plan existed, and no change in
students1 community programs where there was a
voluntary quadrimester plan. This finding
contradicts that of MacDonald and Anderson (1974) who
found that all agencies except the local "Y" had to
make adjustments in their programs and services when
a 45-15 year-round school schedule was implemented in
Virginia Beach, Virginia. Their study did not
attempt to determine what problems parents indicated
were presented for child activities or care when a
45-15 plan existed for their children.
Several studies indirectly indicated what
children actually do during vacation periods.
Richburg and Sjogren (1982) studied parents',
students', and teachers' attitudes toward a four-day
week schedule in 12 small, rural Colorado school
districts. As a part of that study, students were
asked what they did on that fifth day when they were
not in school. Fifty percent of the students in
grades four through eight reported that they used the
extra day to work for their parents, usually without
pay. Eighteen percent indicated they worked for pay

and had more money to spend because of the new
A study of parent attitudes regarding year-round
schooling in Pajaro Valley, California, found that
Mexican-American parents held strong negative
attitudes about year-round schooling because children
were not able to work in the fields with their
parents during the summers. Work, the activity
children engaged in during their summer vacation,
appears to have influenced parent attitudes and
perhaps opinions about year-round schools (Merino,
1983) .
A North Carolina study found that rural area
farmers did not favor year-round schools as work
activities of farm families did not mesh with a
year-round schooling schedule (Carpenter, 1978, as
reported by Merino, 1983).
Shepard and Baker (1977) noted that little
research has explored the reasons for parents'
positive or negative attitudes toward the school
45-15 year-round schedule. They indicated, however,
that they thought parents who had experienced both
the traditional and year-round calendars generally

preferred the year-round calendar for several
1. Learning to live with YRS isn't really all
that difficult. It is usually just a case of
learning how to reschedule certain family
2. Shorter vacations, even though more
frequent, turn out to be less tiring to both
parents and children than does a three-month
summer break.
3. The parents can see some positive
educational effects in their children. Parents
notice that their children don't get as bored
with school and that they settle into school
faster after vacation. Also, parents don't see
any harmful effects on their children.
4. Parents discover that they like the pattern
of leisure time in YRS. Families can do a lot
more with four three-week vacations spread
across the year than they can with one
three-month summer vacation, (p. 73)
Shepard and Baker (1977) also found that the effects
on families depend upon the year-round plan used, the
distribution of children's ages, and the type of the
parent's work.
Shepard and Baker (1977) further reported that
two California school districts (Chula Vista and
Hayward) assessed parent attitudes regarding the
effect a year-round school schedule had on their
child's attitudes toward school. Parents felt that
their elementary school children enjoyed school on
the year-round schedule and "they enjoyed taking

family vacations during times of the year when the
majority of other families were not vacationing"
(p. 48). Parents of secondary school students did
not express favorable attitudes toward the 45-15
vacation schedule because it interfered with
employment for students and with extracurricular
activities (Shepard & Baker, p. 48).
The literature is inconsistent in reporting
approval or disapproval by parents of the year-round
calendar schedule. Generally, parents appear to
approve of the schedule with some negative responses
from families whose children attend school on several
different calendar schedules.
Child Care
A second category of literature reviewed was
school-age child care which, perhaps, has best been
defined by Baden, Gensar, Levine, and Seligson (1982)
in School-Age Child-Care:
School age child-care includes 'self-care' (the
'latchkey' practice used by many families
so called because children wear housekeys
around their necks and let themselves into
empty homes); informal care (children
spending afternoons at one another's homes
where a relative or older sibling is at
home); the "patchwork" approach (families
arranging a schedule for children which
might include music or drama classes one

day, swimming or gymnastics at the local
"Y" another day, and going home or to a
friend's house on other days); family day
care (a paid arrangement used by many
families, in which school-aged children
spend their after-school hours at the home
of a 'provider' who cares for small groups
of children in her home); and finally, the care program, operated either by
a preschool day care center, a community
agency such as the "Y", or by a group
renting or receiving free space for the
program, (p. vi)
A search of the literature related to school-age
child care offered much information on before and
after school programs and care. Robinson (1986)
indicates that initially the focus for child care had
been on pre-schoolers, and as a result, few school-
age programs were available (p. 29). In 1971,
school-age programs comprised only three percent of
child care services (Chapman & Lazar,.1977), but the
late 1970s arid early 1980s witnessed the rise of day
care centers and extended day programs (Robinson,
One area of research has focused on parents'
preferred types of care. A Family Circle magazine
survey reported that 27 percent of the 100,000
parents responding wanted school-age child care
somewhere other than at a day care center or in
someone else's home (Whitbread, 1979). Rodes and

Moore (1975) reported that parents preferred a day
care center for their children six to nine years old.
In the same study parents were reported to be in
general agreement that there were not enough places
for school-age children to go after the school day,
and that communities needed to provide supervised
after-school recreational programs. Parents also
indicated they felt that schools should provide these
Robinson, Rowland, and Coleman (1986) surveyed
1,806 parents regarding summer programs and
after-school programs for school-age children.
Twenty-seven percent of those responding indicated
that they favored organized summer programs and
after-school programs. Fourteen percent favored care
during school holidays, and recreational and
educational programs were perceived as needed by some
parents in the study.
The literature on child care and latchkey
children offered additional information on various
programs offering assistance and recreation for
school-age children. Community enrichment programs
are available to children in many urban areas. The

Gethsemane Enrichment Program in Charlotte, North
Carolina, offers after-school and summer programs for
disadvantaged kindergarten through sixth grade
students. Activities described include help with
homework, educational and cultural experiences, field
trips, and drama and dance recitals (Battle, Hunt, &
Robinson, 1985).
Help lines provide another option and offer
emotional support for children home alone. Guerney
and Moore (1983) described the State College Phone
Friend operated by several women's groups in State
College, Pennsylvania, after school and during school
Educational programs, such as I'm In Charge,
provide safety lessons for children and offer
community awareness programs. Classes "help parents
determine when self-care is appropriate and improve
their self-care arrangements. Children are
instructed in safety skills, emergency responses, and
the care of younger siblings" (Robinson, Rowland, &
Coleman, 1986, p. 168).
Much of the literature on child care described
programs available for children in very general
terms. Auerbach (1979) stated that

some programs put more energy into general
development and physical activity, others stress
reading readiness. . The challenge is to be
more creative and yet apply what we know in
solving human problems of the child care crisis.
(P- 46)
The literature on children's activities during
school vacations, year-round schools, and child care
revealed little about what children do when school is
not in session. Perhaps the clearest description of
the activities children engage in came from a
portrait of a single parent attempting to provide for
her children.
June Kirby of Live Oak, Florida, tried several
after-school arrangements before settling
on her current one. Her 14-year-old son
Can take care of himself, but leaving
8-year-old Nickey in his charge did not
work out because of constant squabbling
between the two.
June tried picking Nickey up after school and
taking her to a day care center and then
racing back to her job as a bank officer.
That arrangement was also short-lived when
Nickey complained that the owner made her
change the younger children's diapers and
give them their snacks.
"I thought she was too mature to be in a day
care center (her friends called her 'baby'),"
complained June. "There were no kids there her
age, and she was being used to take care of
other children. Still, she was too young to
stay home alone. And unfortunately, no
school-age programs are available in this area."

Having exhausted all other possibilities, June
now picks up her daughter after school and takes
her back to the bank where she works. Nickey
does not mind too much. "It's sort of fun," she
says. 111 go back and draw and help my mom put
things in envelopes, but I wish I could go home
and play with my friends." (Robinson, Rowland, &
Coleman, 1986, p. 157)
Research is needed to determine and describe the
activities children engage in during off-track
vacation periods, where these activities occur, who
is engaged in these activities, what arrangements
must be made for these activities and what activities
are available during vacation periods which occur
during the school year.
The current climate and the societal trends have
created a need for a new form of advocacy, one
that will affect the legislative process, alert
the community to gaps in services, promote
institutional change, and revitalize childhood.
Sentiment is growing for preventing problems
before children become teenagers and adults. An
increase in school-age child care projects
across the country reflects an awareness of the
importance of providing safe and stimulating
experiences for children during the out-of-
school hours. . Redirection of programs and
services is needed to ensure and protect the
rights of children and to remind the community
of its responsibilities to their growth.
(Robinson, Rowland, & Coleman, 1986, p. 142)
Robinson, Rowland, and Coleman (1986) concluded
that longitudinal studies are needed to follow
children over time and to gain information on
latchkey child care issues.

Interviews, questionaires, rating scales, and
standardized tests have served as the basis
for data collection on the latchkey issue.
All of these techniques are useful, but
they also have the potential for bias. .
. A multimethod approach to data collection
in which observational techniques are used
in conjunction with the traditional
self-report and interview techniques will
yield more sophisticated data and lead to a
better understanding of the family dynamics
characterizing latchkey arrangements.
(p. 122)
If this is true for latchkey children, it is likely
that the results of such research will lead to a
better understanding of children in general.
This chapter has summarized the sparse
literature on year-round schools related to the
issues raised for families regarding children's
activities during off-track vacation breaks. The
review has also included studies concerned with
school-age child care and latchkey children. The
lack of information on children's activities and
year-round schools confirms the need for further
study on this issue.

This chapter restates the research question,
describes the characteristics of qualitative research
and discusses issues related to this approach.
Finally, the data collection and analysis methods
that were used for this study are presented.
Research Questions
The purpose of this study was to determine and
describe the activities of elementary school-age
children during selected vacation periods occurring
in year-round calendar schools. There have been many
studies of year-round education relating to the cost
of operation, attitudes of parents, teachers and
students, influences upon the curriculum, types of
calendar, and the problems of administration and
organization. However, what students do during
off-track vacation periods when enrolled in a
year-round school has not been examined. Little
information is available on the activities of

children during year-round off-track vacations which
generally vary from traditional school vacation
periods. This study did not begin with a
predetermined hypothesis. It began with the
following questions:
1. What do elementary children do during
off-track vacation periods in a year-round school?
2. Do the activities of students during these
vacation periods differ if family circumstances
differ (e.g., single- or two-parent families, ages of
children in family, etc.)?
3. How do families plan for off-track vacation
periods which last three weeks or longer?
4. Are programs and activities available for
children during off-track vacation periods?
5. If available, do parents choose these
programs and/or activities for their children?
6. Do differences in family circumstances
affect the choice of children's activities?
A qualitative research approach was used in this
research because the objectives of this study were to
gain an indepth description of the activities that
children engage in during vacation periods as well as

how families actually provide for their children's
off-track vacation activities and care.
Characteristics of Qualitative Research
Qualitative research has many different names,
takes many different forms and is conducted in a
variety of settings. Researchers use various terms
to refer to qualitative methodology. "Field
research" is frequently used by anthropologists and
sociologists. "Naturalistic research,"
"ethnographic studies," "participant observation,"
and "symbolic interactionism" are but a few of the
terms used to depict a variety of strategies that
share certain characteristics (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982,
p. 27-30). The term, "qualitative research," is used
as an umbrella term to refer to several research
strategies that share certain characteristics.
The data collected has been termed soft, that
is, rich in description of people, places, and
conversations, and not easily handled by
statistical procedures. Research questions are
not framed by operationalizing variables:
rather, they are formulated to investigate in
all their complexity, in context. While people
conducting qualitative research may develop a
focus as they collect data, they do not approach
the research with specific questions to answer
or hypotheses to test. They are concerned as
well with understanding behavior from the
subjects own frame of reference. External
causes are of secondary importance. They tend
to collect their data through sustained contact

with people in settings where subjects normally
spend their time. (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982, p. 2)
These characteristics may not appear with equal
strength in all research that is termed qualitative,
but to some degree most, if not all, of these do
Source of Data
The direct source of data in qualitative
research is the natural setting, and the researcher
is the key instrument in the collection of data.
Qualitative research is, in a sense, holistic.
People are observed in settings, contexts and in
natural situations. Qualitative research rests on
the basic assumption that behavior is influenced by
the context, the setting, and the situation in which
it occurs. Thus, to best understand that which is
being studied, the researcher must observe in the
setting in which the behavior takes place, and the
people and setting must be viewed as a whole (Taylor
& Bogdan, 1984, p. 6).
The term "personalized" is often used in
describing the researcher's role in qualitative
research. The procedures used in qualitative

research allow researchers to gain a "closeness to
people," to interact with people "in a natural and
unobtrusive manner. In participant observation they
try to blend 'into the network,' at least until they
have grasped an understanding of a setting" (Taylor &
Bogdan, 1984, p. 6).
Nature of Data Collection
Qualitative research is descriptive. Data are
collected in the form of words, not numbers. Nothing
is trivial to the researcher. Qualitative studies
contain thick descriptions, anecdotes and quotations,
and reports are frequently narrative. "The written
word is very important in the qualitative approach,
both in recording data and disseminating the
findings" (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982, p. 28).
Emphasis on Process
Qualitative researchers emphasize process rather
than simply products or outcomes. The researcher
attempts to understand and experience life as others
experience it. The focus is on finding out the
"hows," "whys," and "whats" of the daily interactions
of those under study. Thus the researcher
must view a culture just as the people he is
studying view it, including reflecting on the

social process in which he is inwardly engaged.
This means he sees goals and interests of people
in the same way that the people see them, not as
functions or experimental causes as would the
traditional empiricist; it means that he sees
people in the concrete reality in which they
present themselves in daily experiences, not as
abstractions as would the traditional
empiricist; it means he senses that these people
act freely within the scope of what they see as
the possible, not as determined agents of social
forces as the traditional empiricist would see
them. (Bruyn, 1966, p. 22)
Inductive Analysis
Qualitative research is inductive. The research
design is flexible, and the researcher focuses on
patterns and themes that emerge from the data.
According to Lincoln and Guba (1985):
Inductive data analysis is the inverse of the
usual mode of deductive data analysis used in
conventional investigations. In these latter
instances, data are usually defined a priori by
virtue of some theory that has been brought to
bear; the data are to be certain characteristics
of variables, or of relationships between
variables, that are specified in the theory.
Conventional studies, in effect, search for
empirical data that will confirm (or disconfirm)
what has been deduced from the theory. (pp.
A qualitative design does not work with a priori
theory. Data from the field are analyzed inductively
and themes, patterns, and questions are expected to
emerge from the data. The researcher is then able to

form working hypotheses or focus and "make sense" of
the field data.
Importance of Participant Perspective
Qualitative research is concerned with
participant perspectives. "Meaning" is the essence
of the qualitative approach. W.I. Thomas wrote, "If
men define situations as real, they are real in their
consequences" (as quoted by Taylor & Bogdan, 1984, p.
99). The attempt is to understand and experience
life as others experience it. All perspectives are
valuable. The focus of the researcher is to search
out and gain "a detailed understanding of other
people's perspectives" (Taylor & Bogdan, 1984, p. 6).
The researcher's own perspectives and beliefs are set
aside; the researcher suspends preconceptions (Goetz
& Le Compte, 1984).
"Verstehen," a sociological concept focusing on
the interpretive understanding of human interaction
(Weber, 1968), is the theoretical underpinning of
qualitative research. Through interaction,
observation and description the researcher can
construct meaning. A qualitative approach provides a
means for the researcher to describe and analyze what
is happening and gain an understanding of how people

interpret their experiences and perceive their
In summary, qualitative research is an inductive
process. The data collected are rich in description
of people, settings and conversations. The
researcher is the key instrument in the data
collection and analysis. The primary focus of the
researcher is the process. Patterns, categories and
themes emerge as the study progresses, and constructs
are not predetermined, but emerge from the research.
What we are witnessing are variations on a theme
- much as in the same way a complex piece of
music might not be immediately understood. The
description of social reality is the description
of a mosaic. Any method that would seek to do
this must itself reflect and be open to the
world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.
(Ray Rist, 1982, cited in Bogdan & Biklen, 1982,
p. x)
Issues and Limitations in
Qualitative Research
Several issues must be addressed when a
qualitative methodology is used. A qualitative
approach has as its objective the gathering of data
that are descriptive in nature. Data gathering in
qualitative research relies heavily on a combination
of methods, such as interviewing and observation.
This blend of techniques has raised the issue of lack

of standardization in discussions concerning
qualitative research. McCall and Simmons (1969)
noted that qualitative research
involves some amount of genuinely social
interaction in the field with the subjects of
the study, some direct observation of relevant
events, some formal and a great deal of informal
interviewing, some systematic counting, some
collection of documents and artifacts, and
open-endedness in the directions the study
takes. Because of the rather omnibus quality of
this blend ... it has not lent itself to the
standardization of procedure that social
scientists have come to expect of their methods,
as in testing, survey, laboratory, and
ecological work. Profound questions of
reliability, validity, and generality of results
have thus been raised, injecting terms such as
"observer bias," "personal equation," "going
native," and "hearsay," into the literature of
the social sciences. . The nonquantitative
nature of the results causes difficulties in
presenting evidence and proof for propositions.
(pp. 1-2)
This non-standardization is a major character-
istic, of a qualitative methodology involving
observation and interviewing in the field. The way
in which data are collected makes the use of
statistical methods for analyzing the data difficult.
Because of the difficulty of establishing
quantitative relationships, the researcher must rely
on a more subjective interpretation of the data
(Dean, Eichorn, & Dean, 1969, pp. 19-21).

This lack of standardization leads to another
frequent criticism of qualitative research, its
subjective nature. Patton discussed subjectivity as,
"opinion rather than fact, intuition rather than
logic, impression rather than confirmation ..."
(Patton, 1980, p. 336).
Researchers using qualitative methods
acknowledge the subjective nature of the data
gathered in the field. Bogdan and Biklen (1982)
stated that "what qualitative researchers attempt to
do . is to objectively study the subjective
states of their subjects" (p. 42). They suggest
methods that researchers should use to confront any
prejudices or opinions regarding the data.
While subjectivity has been identified as a
limitation of a qualitative approach, researchers can
"guard against their own biases by recording detailed
fieldnotes which include reflections on their own
subjectivity" (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982, p. 43). Thus,
awareness, acknowledgment of bias, careful recording
of data, and attempting to seek out subjective views
are methods used to deal with the issue of

Bruyn (1966) stated that the qualitative
researcher must be guided on both objectivity and
subjectivity. He noted that "... the methodology,
as it emerges, must be judged by the fruitfulness of
its products and their long-range applicability"
(p. 180). To assure that adequate interpretations
will be accomplished, Bruyn suggested that Homan's
six indexes of subjective adequacy be followed for
exploratory studies.
1. Time: The more time the observer has to
personally experience the culture, group or issue
under study, the more likely he/she will gain a
thorough understanding and accurate interpretation of
the social meanings of the motives and reactions of
these people.
2. Place: The closer the observer works
geographically to the people he/she studies, the more
accurate his/her interpretations of the data
collected should be. The idea involved in the
concept, "geographically close," is not spatial
distance, but closeness to the type of setting and
opportunities for actual observation of the people
studied in their everyday lives.

3. Social circumstances: A variety of social
circumstances is highly desirable for gaining
subjective adequacy. Thus the more varied the
opportunities and activities under study, the more
accurate the interpretations will be.
4. Language: The observer should be very
familiar with the language of the people he/she is
5. Intimacy; The observer must know the people
personally. He or she must be keenly aware of the
activities that play an important role in their
6. Social consensus: The observer must confirm
the meanings of the community either directly with
those he/she studies, or by recording the ways people
confirm their meanings among themselves (Bruyn, 1966,
pp. 180-182).
Any technique or method has limitations when
used as the sole means of gathering data. The
concept of triangulation, that is, the validation of
information and/or findings against other sources or
methods, is of crucial importance in qualitative
research (Lincoln & Guba, 1985, p. 283). Thus, it is
important for the researcher using a qualitative

methodology to provide for the data gathered by one
technique to be validated by at least one other
source or method.
Researcher/Subiect Relationship
Perhaps one of the most delicate issues in
qualitative research is the relationship between the
researcher and the subject. Taylor and Bogdan (1984)
suggested that the researchers should choose settings
where they do not have a personal or a professional
stake. They advised that, while it is not necessary
for the researcher to introduce him/herself as a
researcher to all involved in the study, it is
beneficial to explain the study and the role the
researcher will play to those with whom he or she
will maintain a relationship throughout the study.
McCall and Simmons (1969) noted that "the role which
he [researcher] claimsor to which he is assigned by
the subjectsis perhaps the single most important
determinant of what he will be able to learn"
(p. 29).
A researcher can use covert or overt means in
the establishment of the subject/researcher
relationship. The style in which researchers present
their research varies. Bogdan and Biklen (1982)

described stylistic differences in what they term
cooperative vs. conflictual approaches. Researchers
who choose the cooperative approach believe that the
researcher should be as truthful as possible with the
subjects. Their basic assumption is that people will
allow the researcher access to the site if they can.
Conflictual practitioners assume that people want to
cover up if they possibly can, thus less information
is available if a researcher is truthful.
Taylor and Bogdan (1984) advised that the
researcher should be truthful, though perhaps it is
wise to refrain from telling people how closely they
will be watched. Not only will they feel
self-conscious, but they may act in an artificial
manner (p. 25).
It is also important to anticipate objections
and be ready to respond. As the research is
explained, the researcher should let people know that
the interest is broad and not specific to the
individual or a particular organization.
Confidentiality and privacy must be guaranteed
to the subjects. They must know that names or
identifying information will not be contained in the
notes or final report (Taylor & Bogdan, 1984, p. 26).

To establish the appropriate relationship, this
1. Established rapport with each family and
gave a truthful, clear yet general description of the
study and methodology.
2. Gave a clear explanation of confidentiality.
Pseudonyms were used for all subjects, schools and
school districts.
3. Emphasis was given to the role of the
researcher as a non-judgmental observer and recorder.
4. Subjects were told they would be given a
summary of the study following completion of the
5. Subjects were given an informed consent
Data Collection
The primary data collection methods used for
this study were interviewing, participant
self-reporting using taped summaries and/or recording
journals, and observation. Each source of
information has limitations and combining sources can
help to cross-check and verify data. When more than
one method is used, the researcher is able "to
support a finding by showing independent measures of

it agree with it or, at least, don't contradict it"
(Miles & Huberman, 1984, p. 234). These methods were
dependent upon two other factors, the selection of
subjects and sites, and the researcher/subject
Selection of Sites
Seven elementary school students and their
parents were the subjects of this study. These
students attended elementary schools in the Chadhaven
School District, a suburban school district located
in a large metropolitan area. Five students and
their parents were selected from three four-track
45-15 year-round calendar schools (see Appendix A),
and two students and their parents were selected from
one single modified B track 45-15 year-round calendar
school (see Appendix B).
Selection of Subjects
This study examined the activities of seven
students during one three-week vacation period. The
students were chosen by the researcher from a pool of
family names provided by the school principal.
The researcher called each family to set an
appointment to explain the purposes of the study and

to determine each family's willingness to participate
in the study, as well as their ability to complete
their responsibilities as participants in the study.
During the first meeting, the roles and responsibili-
ties of each participant were explained, and
permission to participate was obtained. A synopsis
of the study objectives and plan and a consent form
were presented to the parents in the introductory
meeting with each family (see Appendices C and D).
The researcher then scheduled the interviews and
observations and set up a procedure for carrying out
the data gathering.
Data Gathering Schedule
The data gathering for this study took place
during the second semester (March and April, 1988)
vacation period of the 1987/88 school year and the
first semester (October and November, 1988) vacation
periods of the 1988/89 school year (see Table 1).

Table 1
Vacation Period Schedules
School Vacation Periods
Modified B
March 28 through April 15, 1988
October 24 through November 11, 1988
November 14 through December 2, 1988
March 21 through April 8, 1988
Interviews provided a major source of
information in this study, for, as Bogdan and Biklen
(1982) stated, through interviewing the researcher is
able to fit "pieces of conversation, personal
histories and experiences together" (p. 139) to gain
a perspec-tive, in this case, of the activities
children engaged in while on off-track vacations.
Interview- ing allows the researcher to gain a deeper
under- standing of the subjects' experiences, views,
activities and actions. Taylor and Bogdan (1984)
described interviewing in qualitative research as
flexible and dynamic. It is a technique used to seek
information on events that are not observable or that

occur infrequently. In-depth interviewing, a tool
used in qualitative research is defined as
repeated face-to-face encounters between the
researcher and informants directed toward
understanding informants' perspectives on their
lives, experiences or situations as expressed in
their own words. (Taylor & Bogdan, 1984, p. 77)
Lincoln and Guba (1985) described interviewing
"as a conversation with a purpose" (p.5).
Interviewing is usually used in conjunction with
observation, and it offers some advantages that other
qualitative research methods do not. It is generally
more flexible and economical than observation, and
allows "the researcher to circumvent the barriers of
time, space, and closed doors, . topics can be
covered in a short span of time, whereas the observer
can only wait and watch through many irrelevant
events in hopes that those pertinent to his interests
will soon transpire" (Whyte, as quoted by McCall &
Simmons, 1969, p. 63). The interviewer has a certain
degree of control over both the sequencing and timing
of his/her search for information.
Interviewing was consistent with the purpose of
this study which was to determine and describe the
activities of children during school vacation
periods. Interviews with both the students and

parents provided much data, and allowed the
researcher to gain information on their points of
view and of the way in which they had planned,
discussed and made decisions as a family on the
activities that the students engaged in during these
off-track vacation periods.
Open-ended interviews were used in this study.
Patton (1980) described three types of open-ended
1. The informal conversational interview. This
interview has no predetermined form; questions and/or
topics are not written beforehand. The interview
takes the form of informal conversations, social
interaction and "chats" that take place between the
interviewer and subject.
2. The interview guide approach. For this type
of interview, topics and questions are outlined and
the interviewer follows this outline during the
interview. The order and formation of the questions
are decided by the interviewer as he or she
interviews the subject.
3. The standardized open-ended interview. The
questions and sequence are written prior to the
interview and the interviewer follows the form and

the directions exactly. This standardized form
enables the interviewer to compare data collected
from different subjects and different sites because
it reduces variation. It is a much more "on-task"
instrument. It does not, however, allow the
interviewer to pursue an idea or thought that has
been expressed by the subject, but is not part of the
questioning (pp. 196-198).
This study used two of the three approaches.
The informal conversational interview was used by the
researcher in the initial meeting with each family.
The purposes of the initial interview were to
establish a rapport with each family and to "let
subjects talk about what is on their minds and what
is of concern to them, not what the researcher might
think they are concerned about" (Bogdan, 1972, p.
38) .
After the study began, at least one brief,
informal conversational interview with the parents
was held. This focused on clarifications of reported
activities and was made by phone or in person.
The interview guide approach enabled the
researcher to give consistency to the questions and
to make comparisons possible during the analysis (see

Appendix E). Data collection using an interview
guide gave some structure and bounds to the study and
helped systematize the information. Thus the
information gathered from each subject during the
interview had a similar general focus. While there
was some structure to the guide, it was not totally
standardized and the interviewer had the option of
probing, exploring and adding questions as needed.
The advantage of the interview guide was the
flexibility of the instrument in that it allowed the
researcher to probe for additional information and
the parents to talk freely and give more information
than a structured instrument would have allowed. The
disadvantage of that flexibility was that not all
parents were always asked the same questions as the
researcher probed, and each parent did give varied
information when he or she answered a probe or added
additional information. Thus comparison was not
always possible. Flexibility, however, was most
important in this study for it allowed parents to
recall and add information that was applicable only
to them and their child or children.
This study included two scheduled interviews
with each family, all conducted by the researcher.

The first interview was an informal conversational
interview with the parent and student, to gain
background information and to explain the purpose of
this study as well as the nature of each family's
involvement in this study. The second interview,
again with the parent and student, used the interview
guide approach, and the focus was on gaining
information regarding the arrangements and planning
that each family had completed for the children's
activities during that vacation period. Questions
focused on activities that occurred during the
vacation break and activities the children had
engaged in during other vacation breaks throughout
the school year (summer, fall, and winter vacation
periods). There was an optional third interview
during the researcher's data analysis and write-up
period. This interview was an informal conversa-
tional interview and was used to check accuracy and
interpretation of the data.
Participant Self-Reporting
Participant self-reporting using taped summaries
and/or recorded journals was also used to collect
data. Within the tradition of qualitative research,
these self-reporting methods are referred to as

personal documents and are, "... any first-person
narrative produced by an individual which describes
his or her own actions, experiences, and beliefs.
The criterion for calling written material personal
documents is that it is self-revealing of a person's
view of experiences" (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982, p. 97).
This study used special purpose journals in
which the student recorded the activities of the day.
Each student was asked to record activities in a
journal one day (Thursday) in the first week, two
days (Monday and Wednesday) in the second week, and
two days (Tuesday and Friday) in the final week, for
a total of five days. The activities were recorded
under time slots beginning at 8:00 a.m. and noted
every two hours through 4:00 p.m. Six students in
this study chose to record their activities in
journals. One student chose to tape record a
chronology of the day's activities, and this method
was used in place of the journal. The tapes and tape
recorder, as well as the journal, were supplied by
the researcher. Bogdan and Biklen (1982) noted that
"... logs and other kinds of written records of
peoples' activities, although not as intimate or
revealing as the diary, can provide some hints about

what life is like for the people you are interested
in studying" (p. 99).
The researcher met with the student and parent
following the final day of recording to pick up the
tapes and notes and to explore any unexpected prob-
lems or complications that arose during non-recording
While interviewing and participant self-
reporting were the major data sources, observational
data added a dimension not possible to gain in one to
one conversations with the parents.
Lincoln and Guba (1981) discussed the advantages
of observation as a methodology:
Observation . maximizes the inquirer's
ability to grasp motives, beliefs, concerns,
interests, unconscious behaviors, customs, and
the like; observation . allows the inquirer
to see the world as his subjects see it, to live
in their time frames, to capture the phenomenon
in and on its own terms, and to grasp the
culture in its own natural, ongoing environment;
observation . provides the inquirer with
access to the emotional reactions of the group
introspectively that is, in a real sense it
permits the observer to use himself as a data
source; and observation . allows the
observer to build on tacit knowledge, both his
own and that of members of the group, (p. 193)
The purpose of observation in this study was to
add descriptive data of the settings in which

students' activities took place. The two students at
Marcville Elementary were observed as they spent the
morning with their mothers at a meeting attended by
the interviewer. They were also observed as they
played in their yard with their friends. This took
place during their vacation break on a day not
scheduled for recording. The five students in the
four-track schools were observed either before or
after an interview, or at the parks and recreation
It is important that data collected by
observation have "informational adequacy" (Zelditch,
1962, as quoted by McCall & Simmons, 1969, p. 9) .
The data collected must be accurate, precise and
complete, and the field notes must contain
descriptive detail and be recorded accurately. These
criteria formed the basis for the focus during the
observation period of the data collection.
In this study, the recording of everything
observed was not the focus of the observation. Goetz
and LeCompte (1984) indicated that recording every-
thing is not often possible and it is necessary for
the observer to make decisions regarding the
parameters of the observations and observe within

these parameters. Observation enabled the researcher
to understand the context in which the children's
activities took place.
Lutz and Iannaccone (1969) described three roles
that an observer could adopt:
1. The participant as an observer. In this
role, the subjects of the study are not aware that
the researcher is playing the role of observer. This
role is more apt to be adopted if the observer has
prior membership in the group.
2. The observer as a limited participant. The
observer becomes a member of the group in order to
observe the participants. The subjects, or members
of the group, may know of the observer's purpose.
3. The observer as a non-participant. The
observer is not a member of the group he or she is
observing. The role played by the observer may or
may not be known by members of the group.
For.this study, the researcher assumed both the
role of "observer as a non-participant," and the
"participant as the observer." One observation was
made and a running record of the activities each
child engaged in was kept.

1 Analysis
Data analysis in qualitative research is
inductive and has as its focus the task of
interpreting and "making sense" of the data
collected. Bogdan and Biklen (1982) noted that
"analysis involves working with data, organizing it,
breaking it into manageable units, synthesizing it,
searching for patterns, discovering what is important
and what is to be learned, and deciding what you will
tell others" (p. 45). Lincoln and Guba (1985)
described the process of data analysis as
"essentially a synthetic one, in which the
constructions that have emerged [been shaped] from
inquirer-source inter- actions are reconstructed into
meaningful wholes" (p. 333) Patton (1980) suggested
that analysis is the "process of bringing order to
the data, organizing whait is there into patterns,
categories, and basic descriptive units" (p. 268).
Thus, the process of analysis involves searching for
patterns and themes by coding, classifying,
categorizing, and sorting data so that the researcher
can better understand and interpret the data.
The researcher followed a process described by
Miles and Huberman (1984) in their sourcebook to

analyze data collected in this study. While
providing more structure than was needed in this
study, major elements of the Miles and Huberman model
were included in the initial design of this research.
During the collection of data, the researcher
began to organize the large quantities of field
notes, interview transcripts and notes, observation
records, journals and other recorded data.
The process of understanding meaning in this
study began when data collection commenced, and
continued until the final report was completed. The
researcher used a Contact Summary Sheet to aid in the
understanding and interpretive process as data were
collected (see Appendix F).
Contact Summary Sheets
The contact summary sheets helped the researcher
begin the organization of data. As each interview
and/or observation was completed, the researcher
reviewed the field notes or transcript and filled out
a summary sheet for each type of data gathered. The
form and content of these summary sheets, developed
after the initial interview, contained a set of
focusing or summarizing questions which provided an
overall summary of the main points of the contact.

This summary helped the researcher prepare for the
next contacts, yet allowed the data collection to
remain a fluid process. It also helped focus and
bind the data collection.
Data Review and Reduction
The following sections describe the data
analysis procedures used in this study. The
researcher chose to follow a process described by
Miles and Huberman (1984), selecting methods and
tactics described within their sourcebook as guides
to the analysis of data collected in this study.
While providing more structure than was used in this
study, the Miles and Huberman model provided a
framework for the initial design of the analysis.
During the collection of data, the researcher
organized the large quantities of field notes,
interview transcripts and notes, observation records,
journals and other recorded data so that these raw
data could be reviewed and reduced. Data reduction
involved "selecting, focusing, simplifying,
abstracting, and transforming the 'raw' data that
appear in written-up field notes" (Miles & Huberman,
1984, p. 21). This was not separate from analysis,
but was an important part of the analysis process.

The researcher's choices of which data chunks to
which to pull out, which patterns summarize a
number of chunks, what the evolving story is,
are all analytic choices. Data reduction is a
form of analysis that sharpens, sorts, focuses,
discards, and organizes data in such a way that
"final" conclusions can be drawn and verified.
(Miles & Huberman, 1984, p. 21)
Codes were developed for use in this study
during data review and reduction. Because the
researcher used an inductive approach to analyzing
data, the codes began to be developed after the
initial interview and the development continued
throughout.the data gathering. The codes were
derived from the research guestions, key concepts,
and themes that emerged during the initial data
collection. They served as organizing devices that
enabled the researcher to extrapolate and cluster
information. These codes changed and were expanded
upon as the data collection progressed.
The following categories from Bogdan and Biklen
(1982) guided the researcher in developing the codes
used for the analysis of data collected.
1. Setting/context codes: general information
on surroundings.

2. Definition of the situation codes: how
people define the setting of topics.
3. Perspectives codes: ways of thinking,
4. Ways of thinking about people and objects
codes: subjects understanding of each other,
outsiders and objects.
5. Process codes: seguences, flow, changes over
6. Activity codes: regularly occurring kinds of
7. Events codes: specific activities.
8. Strategies codes: ways of accomplishing
9. Relationships and social structure codes:
regular patterns of behavior among people.
10. Methods codes: research related issues (pp.
The use of coding enabled the researcher to
bring together and analyze data around certain
themes, ideas, concepts, interpretations and

Memoing is a strategy used during the analysis
of data. Memos are reflective notes on ideas, field
work techniques and research strategies. They can
help by serving as links to larger theoretical,
methodological, and substantive issues (Bogdan &
Biklen, 1982). Glaser described memoing as
the theorizing write-up of ideas about codes and
their relationships as they strike the analyst
while coding ... it can be a sentence, a
paragraph or a few pages ... it exhausts the
analyst1s momentary ideation based on data with
perhaps a little conceptual elaboration. (Miles
& Huberman, 1984, p. 69)
Memos are not data reports, but are "conceptual
in intent" and serve to enable the researcher to tie
data together into clusters. Memos serve several
functions; they can clarify ideas and tie those
ideas to information from the site and they can serve
a "place-holding" function for the researcher (Miles
& Huberman, 1984).
Memoing helped the researcher move from the data
to a conceptual level. Miles and Huberman (1984)
noted that memoing is most important when a strong
inductive approach is used and when a preliminary
framework is developed. Memoing enables the

researcher to understand the adequacy of the original
Memos are simply a rapid way of capturing
thought processes that occur all the way through
data collection, data reduction, data display,
conclusion drawing, conclusion testing, and
final write-up. (Miles & Huberman, 1984, p. 71)
Typological Analysis
The final step in the analysis of data was
development of typologies to aid in the
identification of themes. Typological analysis is
described by Goetz and LeCompte (1984) as involving
dividing everything observed into groups or
categories on the basis of some canon for
disaggregating a whole phenomenon. Such
typologies may be devised from a theoretical
framework or set of propositions or from common
sense or mundane perceptions of reality.
(p. 183)
Taylor and Bogdan (1984) pointed out that "by
studying themes, constructing typologies and relating
different pieces of data to each other, the
researcher gradually comes up with generalizations"
(p. 134).
The process of data analysis in this study moved
from coding used in the early stages of analysis to
assist in data reduction, to memoing used to enable
the researcher to begin the formation of concepts and
categories. Typologies were then built around the

categories of codes. This enabled the researcher to
identify patterns and relationships in the data. The
typologies which were developed in this study became
the basis for constructing the final report of this
Synthesis of the data took place through data
reduction. As categories emerged, the researcher
noted patterns and themes within the data. The final
two chapters of this thesis are a presentation of the
findings that emerged displayed in both tabular and
narrative formats.
Issues of Quality
Meaning is given to data through data analysis,
and accuracy and comprehensiveness of the data must
be considered. Reliability, validity and
triangulation are issues of quality that must be
addressed in all research projects.
Reliability refers to the expectation "that
there will be consistency in results of observations
made by different researchers or the same researcher
over time" (Bogdan & Biklen, 1982, p. 44). Reli-
ability is the extent to which studies can be

replicated and researchers are able to obtain
consistent results, and is synonymous with dependa-
bility, stability, consistency, predictability, and
accuracy (Kerlinger, 1973, p. 442-443).
Bogdan and Biklen (1982) described qualitative
research as differing from quantitative research with
respect to reliability.
In qualitative studies, researchers are
concerned with the accuracy and comprehenO
siveness of their data. Qualitative researchers
tend to view reliability as a fit between what
they record as data and what actually occurs in
the setting under study, rather than the literal
consistency across different observations . .
two researchers studying a single setting may
come up with different data and produce
different findings. Both studies can be
reliable. One would only question the
reliability of one or both if they yielded
contradictory or incompatible results, (p. 44)
Goetz and Le Compte (1984) indicated that a
researcher must give a thorough description of data
collection and the strategies used for data analysis
in order to assure that the study is replicable.
"Replicability is impossible without precise
identification and thorough description of strategies
to collect data" (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984, p. 217) .
In this study, the methods of data collection,
interviewing, participant self-reporting using
journals or taped summaries and observation were

employed as suggested by Goetz and LeCompte (1984).
The data collected were described in detail to
enhance reliability. Excerpts and illustrations from
the data are used throughout the descriptions and the
discussion of the findings in Chapters IV and V.
Validity refers to the "trustworthiness" of the
study (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Internal validity
indicates the extent to which researchers actually
measure what they believe they are measuring. Goetz
and Le Compte (1984) discussed internal validity and
indicated that qualitative research has certain
practices that enhance internal validity. The
collection of data over long periods of time whenever
possible, observation in natural settings which are
more accurate than unnatural laboratory settings,
interviewing subjects and informants, careful
analysis focusing on "disciplined subjectivity," and
self-monitoring all strengthen internal validity in
qualitative research (p. 221). Miles and Huberman
(1984) indicated that the internal validity of a
qualitative study may be strengthened by extending
"the universe of the study." This can be done by
using at least one of four tactics:

1. Simply increase the number of cases.
2. Look purposefully for contrasting cases
(negative, extreme, countervailing).
3. Sort the cases systematically . and fill
out weekly sampled case types; and
4. Sample randomly within the total universe of
people and phenomena under study (p. 232).
In attending to the issues of internal validity
the researcher chose seven families from a number of
schools with varying off-track vacation periods
rather than concentrating on several families in one
school whose vacation periods were the same. Each
school was different, thus allowing the researcher to
find contrast in opportunities and settings. The
research took place over four off-track vacation
periods, which allowed the researcher to gain
information during different off-track periods in the
External validity refers to the extent to which
the findings from the .sample in one study can be
generalized across populations. Qualitative research
is weak with respect to external validity. Goetz and
LeCompte (1984) maintained that qualitative research
should focus on the issues of comparability and

translatability (p. 228). Comparability in
qualitative research is
The degree to which the components of a study
are sufficiently well described and defined that
other researchers can use the results of the
study as a basis for comparison with other
studies addressing related issues. (Goetz &
LeCompte, 1984, p. 228)
Translatability is
The degree to which the researcher uses
theoretical frames, definitions, and research
techniques that are accessible to or understood
by other researchers in the same or related
disciplines. (Goetz & LeCompte, 1984, p. 228)
In this study, the researcher focused on careful
description of the schools, school tracks, family and
home situations, activities and verbatim excerpts
from interviews which enhance the ability of others
to use the data reported to compare, interpret, and
Triangulation is the validation of pieces of
information, often the findings of a study against at
least one other source and/or method (Lincoln & Guba,
1985, p. 283) This is of particular importance in
qualitative research. Miles and Huberman (1984)
noted that the term triangulation was introduced by
Webb in 1965 when he described the concept to mean

the ability "to support a finding by showing that
independent measures of it agree with it or, at
least, don't contradict it" (p. 234).
To assure triangulation in qualitative research,
it is necessary to
find or double-check sources of corroborative,
contrasting, and causally linked
information ... to get data from multiple
sources [people with different roles,
deviant and mainstream informants] using
multiple methods [such as talking with
people and observing routine life at the
site]. (Miles & Huberman, 1984, p. 235)
To assure triangulation, this study used
multiple data sources i.e., interviews, self-reports,
journals, and observation as a check on information
reliability. Sites, were described by principals,
students, and parents. Activities were recorded by
students, and described by both students and parents.
With the exception of one off-track vacation period,
two students described their activities and child
care in each of the vacation breaks.
Subject Reaction to Analysis
This study used participant feedback and checks
with other sources to ascertain the accuracy of the
description of activities and related child care
which was derived from the preliminary analysis.

School principals were asked to read descriptions of
the school and surrounding neighborhoods, families in
the same school were asked verifying questions, and
students were observed in various activities. This
feedback gave parents and children the opportunity to
expand upon the activity and home/school descriptions
and offer any explanations to help clarify the
information that had been gathered.
This chapter has presented the study purposes,
selection of participants, data collection
procedures, and data analysis processes. The issues
of reliability and validity in qualitative research
were discussed and the processes employed by the
researcher to deal with these issues were described.
The study findings which emerged from these method-
ologies constitute Chapter IV.

This chapter gives information about the school
district and the schools which the subjects attended,
describes each student who participated in the study
and the family and home situation of each, and
presents the major themes that emerged from the data.
Chadhaven School District
The Chadhaven School District is located in the
southeastern part of a large Rocky Mountain
metropolitan area. This district is populated
largely by lower-middle to upper-middle class
households. The housing areas were built by various
developers during the past 30 years as subdivisions,
many of which have neighborhood swimming pools,
tennis courts, green belts, parks, bike paths, and
small playgrounds for children. Developers set aside
land for schools on which the school district has
built modern, attractive and beautifully landscaped

schools that blend nicely into these suburban
The Chadhaven School District has a reputation
for excellent schools. Its population has expanded
rapidly in the past 20 years, partially due to the
reputation of the district for high guality
educational programs. The school district has
received unusually strong support from its residents,
and has never lost a budget or bond election.
The west side of the district, which serves
older, well-established, fairly affluent and stable
neighborhoods in which growth is at a minimum, has
schools operating on a traditional calendar schedule.
The east side, the area where rapid growth has
continued since the early 1970s, has neighborhoods
which are new and contain small, moderately priced
homes. This area is less affluent, has higher
mobility among its residents, and has a larger
minority population than the west side. The minority
population of the school district is small, though
its growth in the 1980s has been constant.
In 1970, the Chadhaven district contained nine
elementary schools, two middle schools and one high
school. In 1972, the district opened its first year-

round elementary school. That school, which had
previously operated on a traditional nine month
calendar, changed to a 45-15 year-round calendar.
Students were assigned to one of four tracks, each
track running for 45 days of school and 15 days off-
track (see Appendix A). This school, which had
enrolled a student population of approximately 1,000
and was continuing to grow, made a successful change
to the year-round calendar; this caused the school
district to consider the use of year-round schools in
its rapidly growing east areas. In 1978, Chadhaven's
school board adopted a policy mandating that all
newly constructed elementary schools built with funds
made available by the 1978 bond issue were to be
placed on the 45-15 year-round calendar schedule, if
The southern and eastern parts of the district
had been primarily open prairie land in the late
1960s and early 1970s. As the metropolitan area
grew, it became a boom town in the early 1970s, and
land developers speculated on large housing
developments which sold out more rapidly than they
could be built. Almost overnight the east side grew
from prairie to large subdivisions, with houses built

on small lots, close to the houses on either side.
At first glance one might think that by reaching out
a window, the house next door could be easily
touched. The recent downturn in the economy in the
metropolitan area has caused serious problems for
some residents in these neighborhoods. Some large
companies and corporations have moved from the
metropolitan area in the last eight years, leaving
many neighborhoods on the east side with a large
number of empty HUD homes, giving the appearance that
some neighborhoods are deteriorating rapidly.
However, the district student population continues to
grow, primarily in the east portions of the district.
Faced with the rapid growth in the east area,
the district began a major building program for new
schools. Many of the new schools in these areas
were opened on year-round calendar schedules, usually
on a single 45-15 year-round track. As the student
population approached 650-700, the schools changed to
a four-track 45-15 calendar which allowed the schools
to accommodate 800-900 students in physical facili-
ties built for 600-700- The district calculated that
the savings to the capital outlay budget were
substantial, for three schools could be built for

every four needed under the traditional calendar. By
1988, the district had 10 year-round elementary
schools, four of which operated on a four-track 45-15
calendar and six on a single 45-15 calendar. The
remaining 18 elementary schools, located primarily on
the district's west side, operated on a traditional
calendar schedule.
The Schools
The subjects in the study attended four schools
located in the southern and eastern portions of the
Marcville Elementary
Marcville Elementary School, one of the newest
elementary schools in the southeastern section of the
Chadhaven School District, operates on a single 45-15
modified B track (see Appendix B). Marcville opened
in the summer of 1986 and presently has a
kindergarten through sixth grade enrollment of
approximately 500 students. The well-equipped school
playground serves as a play area and meeting place
for students after school, on weekends, and during
off-track vacation periods.

The neighborhoods surrounding the school can be
described as middle class. The student population
comes primarily from two major subdivisions located
within one mile of the school which is virtually
surrounded by houses. Beyond the housing
developments that presently send students to the
school there is much open space, ready for new
development when the economy is revitalized.
Both of the two major subdivisions have an open
space area designated as a park, with some playground
equipment and play areas for children. One of the
subdivisions also has a club house and swimming pool.
Each subdivision has wide streets meandering through
the area and children play freely near the streets,
on the sidewalks, and in the yards.
Frankville Elementary
Frankville Elementary School opened in 1982 as a
four-track 45-15 year-round school (See Appendix A).
In 1988-89 Frankville had a kindergarten through
sixth grade enrollment of approximately 750.
Enrollment has fluctuated over the years from an
opening enrollment of slightly over 300, to its 1988-
89 enrollment of over 750 students. Frankville is
located in the southeastern portion of the school

district, an area that experienced rapid growth
during the late 1970s. The neighborhoods surrounding
the school are tract housing developments, and the
homeowners are blue and white collar workers. The
neighborhoods, which can be considered lower middle
class are, as is true of many neighborhoods in the
eastern region of the school district, peppered with
"HUD property" signs.
Many different subdivisions send students to
Frankville. Each subdivision is named and families
consider themselves to "belong" to that "community,"
even though another subdivision may begin immediately
adjacent to the first. Families tend to draw their
friendships and acquaintances from the subdivision in
which they reside. The homes surrounding the school
were built by many developers, consequently there are
not many open space areas for children to play. The
school playground is used by children after school
and on week-ends. Because the school operates on a
four-track schedule, students who are off-track do
not use the playground during the day because school
is still in session for three of the four tracks.
The four tracks at Frankville are divided close
to neighborhood lines; consequently, students rarely

become acquainted with students from other neighbor-
hoods around Frankville. Though they live fairly
close to each other, the off-track vacation periods
occur at different times and students on different
tracks rarely have occasion to interact with each
other during school attendance periods or while on
off-track vacation times.
Frankville has a sunrise/sunset program which
opens at 7:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. Parents
who use the program for child care, pay a fee. The
program is operated by the parks and recreation
district. Frankville also offers off-track child
care through the parks and recreation program (see
Appendix G).
Mounds Park Elementary
Mounds Park Elementary School, located in the
eastern area of the district, was built and opened in
1984 as a 45-15 four-track school. This school
presently has a kindergarten through sixth grade

enrollment of approximately 750. Mounds Park has
experienced rapid growth since its opening enrollment
of approximately 350. Three months after opening, the
enrollment had grown to nearly 600. Mounds Park is
located in an area of single and multifamily housing,

built during the late 1970s and early 1980s when the
metropolitan area was growing rapidly. The school
serves a lower middle class, primarily blue and white
collar population. The mobility factor is high
within the community. There are many distinct
housing developments within the attendance boundaries
of the school. Though there is a park located within
these developments, there are no other recreation
areas such as tennis courts and swimming pools.
Housing foreclosures have mushroomed in the area in
the last three years, and HUD foreclosure signs are
numerous. Many of the single and multi-family
housing units are rentals or stand empty. Some empty
homes have been the prey of vandals in recent months.
Mounds Park Elementary has a sunrise/sunset
program for students, providing care from 7:00 a.m.
through 6:00 p.m. for students whose families pay for
that care. The program is housed in the school, but
is operated by the parks and recreation district.
The school also works in cooperation with the
city parks and playgrounds district to offer
off-track programs for students during all of the
off-track vacation periods. Students who participate
in these off-track programs walk or are brought to

school by their parents at approximately 7:00 a.m.
where they are picked up by a recreation district bus
about 8:00 a.m., and taken to the recreation building
for a day of activities. Students must bring their
lunch and a snack and spend the entire day unless a
parent comes during the day to pick them up. The bus
returns students to school at approximately 5:30 p.m.
and students are picked up there or walk home. This
program operates year-round at a cost of $65 per
child per week. This does not include lunch or the
cost of frequent field trips to area museums and
areas of interest. A 20 percent discount is given
for additional children from the same family who
attend the program.
The school playground can be used by off-track
students during the school day. Off-track students
may also use some school facilities such as the
computer lab or media center if on-track students are
not using them. The school maintains a visitors' list
and off-track students must sign in when they are in
the school. They also may help in the office or
clinic, and may eat in the lunchroom, but at a
separate table. Picnic tables are available outside

the school and are sometimes used by off-track
Mounds Park's enrollment has leveled off in the
last two years, and some parents have begun to
question the need for a four-track school. Concerns
appear to center around two issues; the division of
the community into four tracks for school attendance
serves to hinder attempts within the neighborhoods to
build a united community, and the difficulty of
conducting programs such as plays and choir programs
or fund raising activities such as carnivals when
one-fourth of the school population is off-track.
These concerns have been raised at the Chadhaven
Year-Round Advisory Committee, a committee of
parents, teachers and administrators.
Haas Elementary
Haas Elementary School, located in the
northeastern portion of the district, was built in
the late 1970s and is one of the oldest four-track
schools. The school presently has a kindergarten
through sixth grade enrollment of approximately 680
students. Haas has had enrollments above 900, and
for several years the district moved the sixth grade
students from Haas to the area's middle school to

relieve overcrowding. During that time Haas operated
as a kindergarten through fifth grade elementary
The neighborhoods surrounding the school contain
both single and multi-family dwellings, many of which
are non-owner occupied. The housing units were built
by many different developers, thus little attempt was
made to build in some unifying factors such as pools
or green belt areas. The community is made up of
blue and white collar workers, and the neighborhood
could be considered lower middle class. The downturn
in the metropolitan economy has had a great effect on
the school's attendance area. HUD for sale signs
abound; many houses stand empty and in need of
maintenance and repair.
Haas is adjacent to a large public park. There
is a swimming pool in one of the developments, but
there are few other play areas for students. A
middle school is located across the park from Haas
and serves Haas students. That school has a city
operated public library housed in the middle school
building so a public library is within walking
distance of most elementary students.

Haas Elementary School has had a sunrise/sunset
program for many years through which care is provided
for students from 7:00 a.m. until school begins, and
from dismissal time until 6:00 p.m. As at Mounds
Park and Frankville, the sunrise/sunset program is
operated by the parks and recreation district which
uses the school facilities. The city parks and
recreation district operates the off-track full day
program for students at Haas as well as at Mounds
Park, Frankville and other schools in the Chadhaven
or other school districts located within the city
Child Care Portraits
Eight students and their parent(s) originally
agreed to participate in this study. Complete data
were obtained from seven families but only partial
information from the eighth family. The minimal data
obtained from this family were not included in the
analysis. All seven of the children from families
who completed the study attended one of the four
year-round schools just described. Two attended a
single modified B track school (see Appendix B), and
five attended four-track year-round schools; two of

these five attended on a B track, two on a C track,
and one on a D track (see Appendix A). Five of the
seven students were from two-parent families, and two
were from single-parent families. In one of the two-
parent families both parents were employed full-
time; in two others., the fathers were employed full-
time and the mothers worked part-time, and in the
other two the mothers were not employed and were in
the home full-time. Both single parents were
employed full-time.
The following portraits give information
regarding the home, neighborhood, and families of
each student and present data from the interviews and
journals. Quotes from the interviews are documented
by the use of the interviewee's name, a capital I to
indicate "interview," and a number one or two to
indicate whether the quote was extracted from
interview one or two. This documentation follows
each quote. The portraits are grouped according to
the schools attended by each child. All interview
and journal data are written verbatim with the
exception of names and places. Pseudonyms are used
for the names of students and places within each

Jackie is a fourth grade student at Haas
Elementary School, a four-track year-round school,
and attends school on the C track. She participated
in this study during her fall, 1988 vacation break.
She has attended Haas since her kindergarten year,
and has always attended on C track. Jackie's father
was selected by the building principal and contacted
by the interviewer; he and Jackie readily consented
to participate in the study. She chose to keep a
journal of her activities.
Neighborhood. Jackie and her father live in a
large subdivision about eight blocks from Haas
Elementary School. Their small tract home built in
an economic boom during the late 1970s was purchased
by Jackie's parents when this subdivision first
opened. Jackie's parents were living in this house
when she was born. The subdivision in which the home
is located has very few areas where children can
play. There are no swimming pools, and the only park
is located next to the school.
Family and home. Jackie is an only child in a
single-parent household. She has lived with her

father since her parents were divorced several years
ago but she spends one day each weekend with her
mother who lives elsewhere in the metropolitan area.
Both parents are employed full-time, Jackie's father
as a writer for an advertising firm.
The home where Jackie and her father live is
small, neat and comfortable. The furnishings are
functional and well-kept. There are few personal
mementos that give a house a sense of personality,
yet the home is pleasant and well organized.
Jackie and her father appear to have a very
close relationship. Jackie is very self-sufficient
and appears to handle her household responsibilities
well. During the first interview Jackie shared some
of her responsibilities with the researcher.
Well, when I get home from Haas [sunset/sunrise
program] I have to help get our supper. I set
the table and get things ready. Some things I
can make. Then I have to clear the table and
get the dishes in the dishwasher. It doesn't
take long, I'm used to it. (Jackie, 1:1)
Jackie's father takes his responsibility as a
single parent very seriously. He is devoted to
Jackie and very conscientious about her care, both at
home and when she is at school or in child care. He
has enrolled Jackie in a parks and recreation program
during off-track vacation periods. During the

interview he shared a strong sense of responsibility
for Jackie as he talked about an experience prior to
Jackie's enrollment in that program.
I have tried other types of child care. When I
first received custody of Jackie, I sent her to
a woman in the neighborhood who did child care.
She used Jackie to help her take care of the
other children. I didn't send Jackie there to
work, and I felt she wasn't getting adequate
attention. Most of the other children were
younger. (Jackie's father, 1:1)
Reactions to the vear-round schedule. Jackie's
father talked about the three week breaks and how
they adjust to this schedule.
I like the track system. I think it works
better for kids. There isn't a long summer and
they don't get so bored on three week breaks.
Any time off of school is hard for a single
parent. Actually, the hardest time is when
Jackie gets sick. It doesn't matter if it's
off-track time or when she is in school, it's a
problem. (Jackie's father, 1:2)
Jackie agreed, and went on to continue the story:
When I get sick, my dad has to come and get me
and I have to go to work with him. I take my
sleeping bag to his work and sleep on the floor.
It's good I don't get sick too much, because dad
can't take me to his office when I'm sick, but
only if it's an emergency. (Jackie, 1:2)
Off-track activities. Jackie talked about the
parks and recreation program which she attends during
the off-track vacation period.
I go everyday and we do things there. They have
swimming sometimes and we have activities and we

play outside. We have to bring our own lunch
and a snack if we want it. (Jackie, 1:1)
When asked by the interviewer to describe the
activities, Jackie said:
Well, they're just like, well, you know,
activities. You can cut things out of colored
paper and make things, or you can draw. . .
The thing I like best is when we go outside and
play on the playground. They have a big
playground and equipment and we can run around.
We get to eat our lunch outside lots of times
too, and I like that. (Jackie, 1:1)
Jackie kept a journal of her activities at the
recreation program. The following page.from her
journal describes one day at the recreation center.
Her journal account, as is true of all journal logs
included in this chapter, has not been edited.
8:00 I am watching T.V. I think we are
about to leave becaus we useuwuly
leave around eight o'clock. I just
finished breakfast.
10:00 We are on our way to a play named
Cindarella I hope it's good.
12:00 We are at a park and I'm eating my
lunch. I'm cold!
2:00 We are still at the park only this
time I'm playing on the equipment.
4:00 We are eating snack.
The interviewer asked Jackie if she had friends
who went to the recreation program.