Five States To Extend School Days: Why It's A Bad IdeaDanielle Sullivan
My son has about an hour of homework a day. It’s not extreme, but on days when he dawdles away at the kitchen table, getting up from his chair after nearly every other Math problem, thus extending his homework by many minutes, I wish he had less. Some of my nieces and nephews have even more homework and their parents find it frustrating and unnecessary. When you add a couple hours of homework onto an already six-hour school day, it seems that kids can spend nearly their entire day involved in schoolwork.
So if you tack on an extra hour or two to extend the actual school day, you may be looking at some seriously burnt-out kids.
Yet according to Boston.com, “select schools in Colorado, Connecticut, New York, and Tennessee will join Massachusetts in adding extra school hours.” The schools in question will add two hours to their regular school day. While some superintendents and school officials feel it will benefit the children who are struggling, I believe it may have the opposite effect.
It has been said before (many times by me here at Babble) that today’s kids are stressed by the ever-growing demands of school and homework. The increasing state testing and performance markers do not gauge the success of a student. Some very smart kids are poor test takers. Other children have health, behavioral, or learning issues that prevent them from being able to withstand the stress of a longer day. Also, many educators believe that simply adding more hours doesn’t guarantee better achievement. Poor performing schools will still perform poorly. The proposed program would affect children from Kindergarten through the eighth grade.
As a deep believer in education, this decision leaves me feeling very torn. I firmly believe that education is key, yet I also feel there needs to be a balance. Children need to be children. They need to go out and play afterschool, and sometimes do nothing. Yes, do nothing every once in a while to help foster their imaginations and creativity. Overscheduling kids can drown out a child’s natural curiosity and wonder of the world. As kids, we didn’t need all day school or back-to-back enrichment classes. We were allowed to play with friends and enjoy being a child. And we worked hard in school. In fact, many of us remember how incredibly strict our teachers were and how fastidious their requirements were. Yet we were not under the rule of the dreaded state tests or 8-hour school day.
Yet, I know there are so many children who do not have parents who are available to help afterschool, others are struggling in poor performing schools, and still others who would have somewhere else to go for those two extra hours, other than to an empty home, if the school days were extended. For these children, it might be a good thing. Of course, it might turn strugglers even more off from school and in effect, cause more drop-outs.
I love school and have always known that without it, I wouldn’t have had any of the opportunities that I did, but school is not everything. I jut wish there was a better way to help children who need extra help, educationally and on the home front, without putting more pressures on them, or forcing them to be in a school building for the majority of their young life.
Is 8 hours a day in a desk really optimal for anyone? It’s not for adults, and I certainly can’t see how it would be for children.
MORE FROM DANIELLE: