I think the gap year was in theory a good idea, I just think the execution was poor, the specials just seemed to be scattered willy-nilly, I'd have rather had a five concecutive day run like Torchwood COE.
Personally, I'm not a fan of the five night event that Children of Earth was. Though that's primarily because the week that aired was the worse possible week for me to be staying up to watch TV every night. Hell, the whole ordeal soured my opinion of COE to the point that it wasn't until I rewatched it on DVD last year (or rather very late 2011) that I actually saw why everyone praises it.
But, yeah, I agree the way the DW specials were aired was kind of sloppy. Planet of the Dead in April, then nothing until November. I'd have had the specials spaced a lot more even. Say one in spring, another in summer, another in fall, and then the Christmas special.
In hindsight, the gap year was arguably a very bad idea - they had trouble getting funding for the specials, it damaged the income from tie-in sales (Character Options' profits slumped), may have broken the viewing habit among children, lost the show momentum in the overseas markets, and more...
I don't know about overseas markets. At the very least, it was in 2009, starting with The Next Doctor that the show moved to BBC America in the US, and Space in Canada. A move that has done much to raise the popularity of the show in both countries. Granted, much of that is probably more a by-product of Smith starting a year later, but still.