Extended School Days Are NOT The AnswerDanielle Sullivan
School is on everyone’s mind these past few days as the new school year kicks into full gear. A lot of moms were very relieved to drop their kids back at school. Let’s face it, kids get bored during the summer and most moms have to work. Whether you work in or out of the home, juggling young children and work can be hectic so it was with a collective sigh of relief that school resumed. And now so many of us miss our kids!
I’m glad they are back but I miss them too, yet I know they are in the best educational place possible. So when the afternoon rolls around, I’m happy to pick them up and have some family time. This year is a little different. My son is in elementary school from 8:10 am- 2:30 every day except Wednesdays when he gets out at 12:30pm. My daughter just started high school and starts each day at 8:15am. She gets out at 2:45pm. My oldest is in college and her schedule is all over the place.
Some high schoolers around here start at 7am, some get out at 4pm. Every single school is different, yet the push for extended school hours grows. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is adamant about schools adding an extra 90 minutes per day.
I don’t think it’s a good idea.
I can’t help but feel that we are pushing our kids into a chronic adult stress mode more each day. When I think of my daughter’s friends, while their schedules are different, they each have 8 or 9 periods of classwork per day and at least an hour or two of homework each night. Plus, most of them commute and spend an hour or more on the trains and buses. And that is without taking any afterschool clubs or activities into account. If the school day was extended until 4-4:30pm, kids would walk in the door about 5:30. Then it’s off to dinner, homework, studying, prepping for next school day. And what if the kid wants to join an after school club? When would those begin 5pm?
I am all for education. I firmly believe that education is the key to a good life but too much of a good thing is not always best. My daughter was in advanced classes in junior high, so in the 7th grade she took high school biology, and passed the NY Regents test, which means that she is entering high school going straight into sophomore Chemistry. Sure, I am really proud of her hard work, but as a freshman she is taking mostly second year courses. Her workload is rigorous to say the least. Is it the best option? I wonder about it sometimes.
If her day was extended, I don’t believe she’d have time for anything else besides school work from Monday through Friday. And what about kids who are struggling? The drop out rate is hideous in New York City as it is in several other states. Our kids are not failing because their school day is not long enough. They are failing because they don’t have the proper educational support in their home and/or in their school. Some have learning disabilities, medical issues, and attention deficits. Many of these remain undiscovered and diagnosed. Putting more pressure on kids will cause the kids who excel to be more stressed and the kids who fall behind to hate school more.
The key is to make our schools better, and longer does equate with better.