According to a 2003 report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. ranked 15th in reading literacy, 25th in mathematics and 21st in sciences globally. To boost these scores, some lawmakers and educators are pressing for longer school days and shorter summer vacations. There are, of course, some educational advantages to the longer school day, but there are also drawbacks. A shorter school day can bring physical, social and emotional benefits to students.
Students Could Focus on Other Activities
Students are in school about seven hours a day. After school, many of these students participate in extra-curricular activities, such as sports, clubs, theater or volunteering. Although academic work is vital, these extra-curricular activities are also significant for students because they teach responsibility and teamwork. In fact, most colleges require a wide variety of activities for incoming freshman students. But these important activities are often squeezed out by time in school and with homework. The educational system should focus on forming well-founded persons, but students are instead focusing primarily on intellectual pursuits. Less time in school could allow students the freedom to discover other interests that are fulfilling and stimulating.
Students Should Be Getting More Rest
In addition to students having more time to focus on important activities, a shorter school day would give them more time to rest. According to WebMD, children between the ages of 12 to 18 need at least eight hours of sleep each night, sometimes even nine. In addition, many schools begin very early in the day, as early as 7:30 a.m. To get the recommended amount of sleep, students may have to go to bed around 9 or 10 p.m. The reality, though, is between time in school and time doing homework, students don't have the time to spend on other activities, friends and fun, let alone getting the sleep they desperately need. A later start would help students receive the rest that doctors recommend.
Teachers Would Be Healthier
Teachers are often under-appreciated, under-paid and over-extended. Even though they get the summers off, they often have to go above and beyond the call of duty during the school year, with grading, programs and out-of-class tutoring. If they worked shorter hours during the day, they could better focus on their students and their education through mentoring and the work they do from home, such as grading and lesson planning.
Students Are Not Employees
Some people argue that because the work day is roughly seven or eight hours, the school day should be as well. But students, especially young ones, should not be expected to perform the same amount of time at work as adults. They need breaks from sitting at desks and in the classroom. Some educational settings allow students to be active during the day, and this helps, but students still shouldn't be expected to put in an eight-hour work day.
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