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Should kids be spending more time at school?

Instead of 8:15-2:30, or 9:30-3:45 or whatever weird times your kid is in school, there’s been some discussion lately around making the school day longer, like 9-5 longer.

If your kid had a longer school day, they’d have more time to put precious knowledge into their brains and you (or your spouse) wouldn’t have to rush over at that mid-afternoon hour to bring them home, or, you wouldn’t have to pay for the extra two or whatever hours of daycare. But should that extra time be more straight-up lessons like grammar and arithmetic? Some people think so, while others think extra time added into the school day should be spent napping, socializing and running around.

Slate rounded up some of the positions thusly:

As in maybe, but only if it’s used wisely (Annie Murphy Paul, arguing for a return of naptime, recess and the arts; teacher Vern Williams, arguing for the opposite with “serious academic ventures” rather than “glorified recess”). Maybe, but only for kids who won’t otherwise get good after-school experiences (Kipp Foundation CEO Richard Barth, who says longer days give Kipp students chances at exercise, arts, sports and clubs that affluent kids already have; and S. Paul Reville, Massachusetts Secretary of Education, who wants expensive additional learning time to go to kids who need it: “low-income students and those with special learning challenges”).

Barth has a good point: how many kids just go straight to dance or karate or kumon or Hebrew school anyway? So many parents are indeed in favour of their kids having a longer structured day, but what about the parents who can’t afford the soccer league fees?

Should there be a mandated eight hours of activity built into the curriculum, but you want to zip your kid over to Miss Laura’s ballet class, they don’t have to stick around the physical school building? And certainly there are kids who, having sat at their desks or in a floor circle for a number of hours aren’t in any way ready to be calm and share-happy at a daycare centre — they need their running and jumping time.

Our teacher friends tell us they’ve been taking on more and more responsibilities over the years (since it means holding their place in the very competitive job market) so the teachers seem to be at the school for those extended hours… would they be cool with running more clubs and activities?

We’d love to get your opinions on this: What should kids be doing from 9-5 and who should responsible for that decision?

This post is sponsored by the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario and their Kids Matter campaign. Join the community on their forum or follow the #kidsmatter discussion on Twitter.

Photo via neonarcade via Flickr


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