Side Effects of School Being Too Long

by Kristine Tucker Google

Educators, administrators, parents and students debate whether to lengthen the school day, usually by at least 30 minutes to more than 90 minutes a day. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a regular, nonextended school day averaged 6.64 hours in 2007-2008. Disadvantages of longer days often outweigh the benefits. Extended school days can result in scheduling conflicts, low energy, sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

Unhappy Students, Parents and Staff

One of the biggest drawbacks to an extended school day is unhappiness and discontent. Longer school days mean less time for other activities -- family time, recreation, exercise, sleep, philanthropic involvement and entertainment. According to Parents magazine, research has not established a clear link between extended school days and better test results or more positive learning environments. A school day that's too long often leads to frustration, tiredness and disappointment for everyone involved.

Low Energy

Longer school days might cause hunger problems for students who don't eat lunch, or who burn up their calories during school time. Eighth-grade teacher Arlene Ackerman says she and her students are on empty and aren't physically or mentally equipped to take on more teaching or learning by the end of a regular school day, according to "The Notebook," a publication for parents, teachers and students in Philadelphia. Lengthening the school day adds to the fatigue and low energy.

Logistical Concerns

A longer school day means some students have to get on the bus earlier in the morning and won't return home until later in the afternoon. Some students, especially those in younger grades, might not get enough sleep as a result. Extracurricular activities start later, forcing middle school and high school students to get a later start on homework, chores and nighttime routines. Extending school hours doesn't just affect classroom academic time, it affects home time, too.

Overworked Teachers

Extending the school day can pose problems for teachers, too. Most have after-school responsibilities such as planning lessons, preparing activities, organizing and decorating classrooms, grading papers, reporting grades and corresponding with parents and staffers. Teachers already work an average of 58 hours a week during the school year, according to Steven Ashby, professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois, and research assistant Frank Manzo at the University of Chicago. Without sufficient accommodations, teachers are left little time to take care of either after-school duties or personal obligations.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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