WASHINGTON—A report released Monday by the Pew Research Center revealed that a growing number of American fifth-graders are opting to take a gap year to unwind from the stresses of elementary education and recharge themselves before taking on the rigors of middle school. “We found that it’s increasingly common for kids to put off enrolling in the sixth grade for a year and instead give themselves the freedom to focus all their energy on relaxation and personal growth,” the report read in part, adding that many 11-to-12-year-olds see the break as a time to step back and reflect on what they’ve learned about topics such as the California Gold Rush, decimal place values, and earthquakes, as well as to ponder what they want to get out of their middle school years. “While some fifth-graders still take the classic approach of traveling in the hopes of finding themselves, a significant number prefer to just play out in the yard or visit the zoo a lot. And if the trend continues, it may soon be the norm for kids to spend a year learning a specialized skill, such as getting really good at riding their bike with no hands or seeing how many Twizzlers they can fit in their mouth, rather than reflexively moving up to the next grade.” The report also noted that for many students, the decision was primarily driven by money, as 12 extra months of allowance would provide financial breathing room once they started junior high.
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