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Are Long School Days the Answer to Educational Concerns?

There has been recent talk of longer school days, but one mom doesn't believe it's the right option for children.

Lately there has been a lot of talk about increasing the length of time that students spend in the classroom each day.

Recently, it was announced that a pilot program will be introduced in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Tennessee and Colorado that will allow some cities and towns to lengthen the school day. The goal is to determine if the move to a longer school day will help students to achieve more academically.

Here in Massachusetts two towns, Lawrence and Fall River, are expected to participate in the program which will add approximately 300 hours of learning time to the school year. The pilot program is expected to continue for approximately three years.

Now, let’s face it. As moms we do joke around a lot about dying for vacations to end and getting the kids back to school. Most of us do still value the time we have with our kids no matter how much we joke around.

I am not an educator and I don’t pretend to be one. I am not an expert on the subject of education and will never try to be one. I am, however, a mom who is not at all on board with longer school days.

Frankly, I feel the same way about longer school days as I do large amounts of homework. More doesn’t always mean better.

Depending on their grade level students spend anywhere from 5–7 hours a day in the classroom. Yes, as I have said before, that is not an 8–9 hour workday like an adult but the important point is students are not adults.

Academics are, without a doubt, a top priority in children’s lives but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a lot of living to do outside of the classroom too. Just like adults need time away from work, kids need time away from school to help make their lives complete.

Nothing, even education, is in my opinion, more important than family time. More time in the classroom would, inevitably, mean less time spent with family. As it is it’s often a nearly impossible feat to sit down to dinner as a family during the week. Longer school days would undoubtedly make that even harder.

After school activities such as sports, clubs, youth groups, part time jobs and other extracurricular activities all play an important role in creating well rounded kids. A longer school day would make it even more difficult for students to remain involved and active in all areas of their community.

Something as simple as free time to play with friends is a huge part of what makes childhood special.

Let’s face it. Even now, when homework starts to pile up the first thing parents are forced to do is start reevaluating their kid’s afterschool activities. I can’t possibly count the number of times I have said, “You can’t go to practice if you don’t get your homework done.” I’m sure I’m not alone.

As a mom I don’t want to have to start limiting family time and outside activities to accommodate longer school days. Yes, I want to see all of our kids achieve academic success. At the same time, however, I feel like more time spent in the classroom might be too high a price to pay for that success.

A. Smart January 09, 2013 at 01:01 AM
Talk about a poor plan. Many things are wrong with our education system longer hours is not the answer. We need to get away from standardized testing so teachers can actually teach.
Dave January 09, 2013 at 05:44 PM
I agree longer school hours do not make better students. Nowadays, our answers seem to be to obvious; more homework, more tests, longer hours, etc. I feel we need a really good look at our curriculum and how we deliver classroom teaching and learning.
Bob January 09, 2013 at 06:03 PM
I agree Dave! We also need to look at the delivery system (ie teachers). We need to get the unions out of the education business. My kids have had great teachers in Tewksbury and they have had very bad teachers too. The bad ones never seem to get rooted out and some of the good ones have left. We need to get back to teaching American Exceptionalism in our schools and challenge our kids to be better than we are. No more everyone gets a trophy and a lot more self responsibility. I love that my sons third grade teacher (or was it second?) still corrects his English when she sees him out and about (he is in 6th now). She says "how are you (his name)" and if he says "I'm good" she asks again until he correctly responds "I'm well". She was tough but fair and he loved being in her class. She challenged him and made him better. He knows that and appreciates it. More gym also! Get out and run for 60 minutes!

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