School Hours

Sarah - posted on 10/10/2009 ( 27 moms have responded )

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So I haven't researched this so I don't know for sure if it is true, but I heard today that Obama is looking to extend the length of school days and have kids go to school six days a week. It appearantly has to do with the fact that our children are so far behind other cultures like the chinese.



Personally, the very idea of this appalls me. Children NEED to have a weekend! And they already go to school for 8 hours a day, I think that if we ask them to do longer hours at school, they will simply end up burned out. I know that when I work more than 8 hours, I am tired and do not function as well. I think our curriculum needs work, but the answer is not more time spent at school! Actually I really don't even like full day kindegarten five days a week (Its fine if they only go 3 days, but I think 5 is too many at 5 years old)



Has anyone heard anything about this? And what are your thoughts on the idea?

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[deleted account]

Ugh....I responded to this in a lengthy answer, then the computer froze up on me. Grrrr.....this is my 14th year teaching. There are some pros & cons to extending the number of school calendar days per year and/or increasing instructional time during the day. I have done research on this for my Master's Degree (Curriculum/Instruction & Administration) In my professional opinion, there is too long of a summer break. 8 weeks is too much, and even parents complain "I can't wait to send my kids back to school." You think it's just a coincidence that teachers spend the first 6 weeks of each new school year reviewing before new material is introduced? I personally would have no problem with a shorter summer break and even an extended 30-40 minutes built into the instructional day. Primary schools have 45-60 minute lunch/recess + 10-20 minute morning & afternoon recess. Add in the daily specials (music, computers, art, PE, etc) and transition times. My research showed that total core class instructional time is as little as 4-4.5 hours a day, within a 7 hour school day. It's no wonder that American students lag far behind other nations who revere education and strive for excellence. There are 2 neighboring school districts who run on a modified year-round school calendar, meaning a shorter summer break. Their test scores prove that this model works. Another positive educational model is looping, where the classroom teacher moves up a grade level with their class. This also proves in increase in learning. My most successful year was when I looped with 2/3's of my 7th graders to 8th grade. No cutesy "Get to know you's" or lectures on classroom rules. I taught from day One because I knew strengths and weaknesses of my returning kids. For my advanced class, I had them on 10th grade curriculum by the end of the school year.



There are a lot of problems requiring educational reform. Teachers are, of course, a main componenet. Yes, get rid of the crappy ones. But it also requires strong school leadership, community, and parental support. I absolutely cannot stand parents who do not support the schools in any way, shape, or form. Instead of badmouthing every teacher and administrator, do something to help solve the problems. Spend time in the school-and one full day just doesn't count. Advocate for positive changes. Or, pull your kid from the district. There are other educational options like homeschooling, charter schools, and neighboring districts.



But back to the issue at hand, American schools require a minimum of 180 school days. The MINIMUM-why not EXCEED the minimum? Why not add on 10 more school days-5 to the beginning, 5 to the end of the year? Why should the minimum be acceptable? Isn't learning an every day opportunity? Or, is education simply forgotten over the summer? I could go on and on, but it's not going to solve anything. Oh well-have a great day Ladies!

Natalie - posted on 10/10/2009

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I like the way Japan works- shorter days, longer year, longer lunch break constant availability of activities during vacations that students are strongly encouraged to participate in.

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Amie - posted on 10/13/2009

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Your education system does need an overhaul. I will admit I think that way.



Extending the amount of time they spend there will not fix the problem. Throwing more anything at a problem never fixes it.



Teachers need to be held culpable when not doing their job, parents need to be held culpable when not making sure their children go to school, teachers need to not have so many responsibilities loaded onto their shoulders, they need better pay, a more effective way of teaching needs to be implemented, cheap (or free) after school activities need to be accessible for all students, school day care needs to be implemented/affordable for all families, the funding issues should be wiped as they stand.. smarter students should not equal more funding, they should all get the same regardless.



Those are just a few of things I believe are wrong with the education system down there. It is why I like our education system. It is not just the school system that handles all this, their are loads of parent volunteers (who are appreciated for taking their time to help!) outside associations, etc. that help to make sure we are turning out a brighter generation than the last one.

Starr - posted on 10/13/2009

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I see your points regarding the breaks but still, the school year is not conducive for many working parents schedules.

When I see how much children in America are lagging behind other industrialized nations in education I think the question we need to ask ourselves is not whether year long school is asking too much of children but rather, is our current education system asking too little?

[deleted account]

Ours get to chose whether they want to try and budget that and be paid over the 9 months of school or evenly over the whole year to make it easier on them. It's a common misconception that (here at least) teachers are "paid" for all of their holidays, including summer break, when in fact they're just paid for the days that they work.

Amie - posted on 10/13/2009

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Quoting Diana:




Teachers don't get "breaks." They are contracted for the amount of school days of the district, and they can either have that paid over the course of the school year or they can have it broken into 12 monthly payments.





Ours are paid monthly. They have to budget for summer break, etc.

Amie - posted on 10/13/2009

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Quoting Starr:

Now I love me some teachers..BUT I do have to add my two cents. I don't think that school 6 days a week is the answer, however, why can't the school day reflect the normal work day/work year? I surely don't get off work at 3pm and neither does my husband. What about people who don't have the flexibility to get off work early or can't afford after school programs for their children OR afford to have one parent stay at home to pick up the child at 3? AND I am not a fan of the staff work day once a month that our district teachers get because that means I have to find alternative care for my kindergartner since he can't attend school. I just don't think it's fair to the working family that in addition to regular holidays, winter, spring and summer breaks there is now an additional day once a month that a child is not in school? Think about how this type of system effects low wage workers who work on an hourly basis.

I think rather school should be 8-5, with perhaps a 45 minute lunch and a longer recess time AND be year round. I don't think that is asking too much for kids now a days. Keep the winter and spring break but leave out summer and once a month work days.

Parents, then, should also be responsible for ensuring there is child is a success in school. I know teachers are burnt out and they get paid very little. But so are parents and just because I get paid a low salary and work with unruly adults all day does not mean that I get holidays, seasonal breaks and one day off a month where the people I work with aren't present so I can actually get some work done.


Too much stimulation for the kids and they will not learn. That is why they are in school for shorter periods. Plus they are children! There are already enough who don't like school can you imagine how much that number would grow if they were forced to attend for that long? Children need breaks, they are not mini adults, they can not handle that much. Kids may be smart but they do not have the stamina.



 



Here our kids school offers a daycare for very little money. A lot of low income families use it. It  is accessible when the teachers have an inservice day. Our inservice days have all but been wiped out though, they only have a few a year because they our school district has early dismissal once a week and the teachers get together then to go over everything for a couple hours a week.



 



Those inservice days are important too. The teachers talk about curriculm and school issues. They focus on problem areas and what can be done to improve them. At least here they are, I can't speak for others. It give's our teachers a structured time away from teaching to plan and learn themselves. My children's school introduced a new way of teaching 4 years ago. So far it's been a hit, the kids are learning even faster and having even more fun in school.

[deleted account]

Quoting Starr:

Now I love me some teachers..BUT I do have to add my two cents. I don't think that school 6 days a week is the answer, however, why can't the school day reflect the normal work day/work year? I surely don't get off work at 3pm and neither does my husband. What about people who don't have the flexibility to get off work early or can't afford after school programs for their children OR afford to have one parent stay at home to pick up the child at 3? AND I am not a fan of the staff work day once a month that our district teachers get because that means I have to find alternative care for my kindergartner since he can't attend school. I just don't think it's fair to the working family that in addition to regular holidays, winter, spring and summer breaks there is now an additional day once a month that a child is not in school? Think about how this type of system effects low wage workers who work on an hourly basis.

I think rather school should be 8-5, with perhaps a 45 minute lunch and a longer recess time AND be year round. I don't think that is asking too much for kids now a days. Keep the winter and spring break but leave out summer and once a month work days.

Parents, then, should also be responsible for ensuring there is child is a success in school. I know teachers are burnt out and they get paid very little. But so are parents and just because I get paid a low salary and work with unruly adults all day does not mean that I get holidays, seasonal breaks and one day off a month where the people I work with aren't present so I can actually get some work done.


Teachers don't get "breaks." They are contracted for the amount of school days of the district, and they can either have that paid over the course of the school year or they can have it broken into 12 monthly payments.

Starr - posted on 10/13/2009

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Now I love me some teachers..BUT I do have to add my two cents. I don't think that school 6 days a week is the answer, however, why can't the school day reflect the normal work day/work year? I surely don't get off work at 3pm and neither does my husband. What about people who don't have the flexibility to get off work early or can't afford after school programs for their children OR afford to have one parent stay at home to pick up the child at 3? AND I am not a fan of the staff work day once a month that our district teachers get because that means I have to find alternative care for my kindergartner since he can't attend school. I just don't think it's fair to the working family that in addition to regular holidays, winter, spring and summer breaks there is now an additional day once a month that a child is not in school? Think about how this type of system effects low wage workers who work on an hourly basis.

I think rather school should be 8-5, with perhaps a 45 minute lunch and a longer recess time AND be year round. I don't think that is asking too much for kids now a days. Keep the winter and spring break but leave out summer and once a month work days.

Parents, then, should also be responsible for ensuring there is child is a success in school. I know teachers are burnt out and they get paid very little. But so are parents and just because I get paid a low salary and work with unruly adults all day does not mean that I get holidays, seasonal breaks and one day off a month where the people I work with aren't present so I can actually get some work done.

Heidi - posted on 10/13/2009

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Well then I am thankful I live in Canada. My boys go to school at 8:35 am to 3:05pm, they also have 2 15 minute recesses and an hour for lunch. So in reality they are only in class doing work for 4 hours. So for you Americans I can see why you would be upset, because kids do need there down time.

[deleted account]

I haven't read all the replies, but here in New Zealand, our school days are:

School Year starts 27Jan (our summer), to 18 December,

Primary and Intermediate schools are Starts 8.55-9.15am to 3pm

Term 1 - Tuesday 27 Jan and Thursday Feb 5 - Thursday 9 April (90 - 104 half-days)

Term 2 - Monday 27 April - Friday 3 July (98 half-days)

Term 3 - Monday 20 July - Friday 25 September (100 half-days)

Term 4 - Monday 12 October - no later than Friday 18 December (98 half-days) *

High School 8.30am to 2.45-3pm

Term 1 - Tuesday 27 Jan and Thursday Feb 5 - Thursday 9 April (90 - 104 half-days)

Term 2 - Monday 27 April - Friday 3 July (98 half-days)

Term 3 - Monday 20 July - Friday 25 September (100 half-days)

Term 4 - Monday 12 October - Tuesday 15 December (92 half-days) *

* Or to a day in December which ensures that the school has been open for instruction for 380 half-days in 2009.



I think 6 days a week is a bit beyond the joke really. Some children attened Sunday School, so they will spend their whole week at school!

[deleted account]

Quoting Jodi:

Yep, that many kids go to school without breakfast, terrible isn't it?. There are apparently areas of Sydney now having school breakfasts for kids from 8am so that they can ensure all the kids are getting something to eat before school. So those parents who can't be bothered can just send their kids off to school early. Even when I was working long hours,I never sent my son to school without breakfast!!



School breakfasts have long been a practice around here. They work for a combination of reasons-and not all because parents are too lazy to feed their chidlren. I live in a poor area, and the children who qualify for free or subsidized lunches also qualify for breakfasts, so the breakfasts allow poor children to eat well for two meals, 5 days a week. They also work well for students who had to get on the bus extraordinarily early because their parents didn't or couldn't take them to school.



As far as extra hours-I think it's total and utter crap. I support Obama in most respects, but I saw an article about this a few weeks ago, and it's ludicrous. Schools are already understaffed and underfunded-and adding more time to the schoolday and/or adding a new day of the week to the school calendar nationwide is going to cost a lot of money.



It's also a symptom of one of the more problematic cores of our country-we focus on quantity rather than quality. If students received better educations in schools  that were well-funded enough to have text books for everyone, microscopes and other lab equipment, and various other school supplies, and that weren't focused on passing tests, but instead on learning, they would know more without adding time in the classroom. It's the same with the work week-we have a much longer and more rigorous work week with less vacation per year than most other countries. Now we're applying this to our children. Yuck!



I say let them go year round with longer breaks between semesters and longer holidays. Our school calendar is still based on the harvest calendar, and (at least in most places) children no longer have to help their families harvest and plant, so there is little reason for the big break in the sumer and small breaks that are very far apart during the school year. I also say we find some more funding to allocate to schools-because they receive little federal funding as it is, and some state/local governments don't have the money to adquately support schools. If we all have a right to education, and to equal education, then let's see some fucking equality and pull out the funding to supply our Mississippi and Alabama (and anywhere else the schools are in such bad shape) schools who don't have them with textbooks and microscopes and give these children a chance at what children in more affluent areas have.

Sharon - posted on 10/10/2009

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I have this urge to go make up a few dozen breakfast burritos right now....

Jodi - posted on 10/10/2009

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Yep, that many kids go to school without breakfast, terrible isn't it?. There are apparently areas of Sydney now having school breakfasts for kids from 8am so that they can ensure all the kids are getting something to eat before school. So those parents who can't be bothered can just send their kids off to school early. Even when I was working long hours,I never sent my son to school without breakfast!!

Sharon - posted on 10/10/2009

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thats crazy jodi. 35% of kids going without breakfast????? omg. LOL but I have my own chickens and ducks for eggs, lol. Now if I could just bring myself to raise a pig and a steer.... man i'd be set.



I've always told my kids to be on the lookout for kids who seem hungryl. My kids go packed with two to three times the snacks they need to share. Its not allowed but I'm shocked at the number of parents who don't think to or can't provide snacks for their kids at mid day.



It breaks my heart to think of a child going hungry. Maybe I will find the nerves to raise a pig & steer and I can open my own breakfast shop....

Jodi - posted on 10/10/2009

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My son has school uniform (it's great - no fights over what to wear!!). Most Australian states do, but here in ACT they only have uniform in private schools, which is a big reason I went private. I see the teenage girls hanging out in their crop tops and shorts with butt cheeks hanging out and really have to wonder......



We pack our kids own school lunches. They do have a tuckshop, and I let him have a bought lunch once every couple of weeks as a treat, but in Australia, most kids have packed lunches :)



The other thing I worry about is the percentage of parents who allow their kids to go to school without breakfast. My kids do not step out of the door unless they have eaten a healthy, filling breakfast!! I read a statistic somewhere recently and I think it was something like 35% of kids are going to school without breakfast!! I find that quite stunning!! This would have a HUGE impact on their education because they can't possibly be working at their peak without food in their stomachs!

Sharon - posted on 10/10/2009

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I agree with those too Alison - I've been pushing for school uniforms and better foods for the kids. Thank god our schools don't sell long johns (a type of donut) like my school did. I lived on chocolate milk and chocolate frosted long johns.



If the kids are still hungry after their lunches they can order extra salad, granola bars, fruit cups etc. So I think my school is doing pretty well. But I'd like school uniforms and a better curriculum and teachers who give a damn.

[deleted account]

It would help parents out, but I don't think it would improve the grades. They already spend more time in school than most other countries and they're still behind.



The schools are just too big and the kids are forced to ride a yellow bus for miles because they don't build small local schools. There are some schools with thousands of kids in them. This is not a good environment for a young child. Plus the 11 year old who lives below me starts school at 6:30 am. This is just way too early and the kids are tired.



Evidence suggests that school uniforms, healthy lunches and local schools improve a childs learning experience, but parents are not supportive when they try to put those things into practice.

Sharon - posted on 10/10/2009

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They would have to up the teachers pay. They don't get paid enough as it is. Longer hours, longer weeks = more pay. I'll bet they wouldn't argue with that part of it.

Jodi - posted on 10/10/2009

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6 days a week? That's ridiculous. I'd like to see the teachers agreeing to that one too, LOL :)



My son is in school 5 days a week for 6 1/2 hours (starts at 8:45 am, finishes at 3:10pm). He has to catch the bus to and from school, leaves at 7:45am, gets home at 4pm. Then he has to get some homework done, unless he has sporting practice, which means he has practice then homework. I think that is a long enough day for a kid. And 5 days a week is enough.



For goodness sake, our government has just made all working weeks 38 hours for adults because we need a balance between work and family. To me, 32 1/2 hours a week for a kid, plus homework time is equivalent to, or even more than, this!!



Why the heck would you want to take a kid's weekends away from them? Enough kids hate school as it is, imagine convincing them you were cutting their weekends in half too? What about sports? Extracurricular activities? Socialising? These are all just as important as academics. Kids also need unstructured time to allow them to develop. If 6 days of their week is structured with school, the other day is probably structured with family......when can a kid just be a kid?



Anyway, he'll never get it up. Between parents being up in arms, and teachers refusing to work a 6 day week.....good luck with that one.

Jeannette - posted on 10/10/2009

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Quoting Laura:

Jeanette...you are absolutely right on every detail of this topic...but you confuse the crap out of me ;P



I confuse the crap out of everybody!  I don't know how to explain why I think the way I do, other than, I just go with what I think is right. ;0) 

Sharon - posted on 10/10/2009

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If they are in school for 8 hours and come home with no homework - then I'm ok with it. As long as breaks & recess reflect the longer hours.



Weekends - my kids have assigned weekend homework - I almost don't see the difference except instead of me having to teach my kids, their TEACHER will have to do it.



However in light of an 8 hour day - I don't see the need for weekend school. I could see year round school happening. This has paid off for a lot other countries. They don't get a long summer break but they get more breaks and slightly longer breaks throughout the year.



My kids are only in school for 6 hours each day currently. Our kindergartners are in school for 6 hours now too. My ex-SIL is a kindergarten teacher - since the half a day classes - and now the full day classes, she says the full day helps. She says these kids are more advanced than her previous classes.

Lindsay - posted on 10/10/2009

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Not sure if it varies from state to state but the kids here are in school about 7 hours a day, kindergarten included. My kids are in PreK 4 days a week, 3 hours a day. Our school system runs from the second week in Aug. through May. The kids get a week for fall break, two weeks for Christmas break, and 1 week for spring break. We have a private school system in our city on the same schedule as well. Our city school system runs on an alternative schedule. They get a 6 week summer break, 2 week fall break, 4 week Christmas break, and a 2 week spring break. Honestly, I prefer the traditional schedule and the school systems' scores and graduation rates haven't really changed in the last 6-7 years they've been on this schedule. I don't think more time in the classroom would help, but better teachers and better curriculum.

Isobel - posted on 10/10/2009

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Jeanette...you are absolutely right on every detail of this topic...but you confuse the crap out of me ;P

Jeannette - posted on 10/10/2009

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Oh, and I disagree with longer hours and longer weeks...these are not CEOs of major companies...they are our kids!

Jeannette - posted on 10/10/2009

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Actually, I heard about this too. I think teachers are going to request 4 day weeks.

I believe we need education reform. Since I live in Texas I can honestly say, I've disagreed with Bush since he was our governor about education reform.

1. You can throw money at people that doesn't make them smarter

2. Funding based on test scores ensures that your children will be taught to pass a test

3. School should be year round with breaks throughout the year rather than 3 month summers. a. children will retain new information better b. it is unrealistic to give anyone 3 months off...where else in life do we do this?

4. Get rid of or cripple teachers unions so that people who became teachers for the same schedule as their kids and really don't care, CAN be fired. We need to be able to get rid of bad teachers rather than moving them to another school.

5. Give incentives to schools with the highest number of graduates going to college

6. Make college more affordable so that the rich and upper middle class are not the only ones going.

7. Encourage subject absorption through the use of manipulatives, field trips that correlate to the subject, professionals out in the real world who use the subject in their career...Joy the Historian, for instance, visiting a History class, etc

I have spoken about this before...it isn't about the money, it is about the quality of the person standing in front of the classroom, it is about whether mom/dad give a crap about jr, it is about whether a district is financing for the best athletic program or the best math program, it is about whether jr has the right attitude to take in the information....



edited to add: I do support even distribution of funds per student. I believe that if students in one school are receiving 7000 per student and in another they are only receiving 5000 per student, then that needs to be changed....the incentives I propose are above and beyond the normal funding. I want schools competing to try to get kids into college and I want them competing to have the best teachers.

Amie - posted on 10/10/2009

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8 hours?!! Holy crap!!



Our kids go to school for 6 hours a days, 5 days a week. Even our kindergartners. Our Pre-K though is half days.



Our school year runs from August 25th- June 25th. Then they have summer holidays. Also, depending on your province, there is at least one long weekend each month, sometimes 2.



I'm in Canada and we have an excellent curriculum. Our teachers, on the whole, are good ones too. I'd look there before I start sticking kids in school for longer periods.



Quality not quantity.

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