What’s that you say, parents? You think the kids should stay at school just a little bit longer? Luckily for you, more and more school districts are agreeing and choosing to implement an extended school day to maximize the educational potential of school time. If you find yourself potentially sending your child to an extended school program, here are some of the things you need to know when considering your options.
What is an extended school day?
Typically grade schools finish around 3pm and send kids on their way in order to make room for extracurriculars. For working parents, this can create issues since there are still have two more hours of work to complete — so the solution for this, as well as a few other issues, is to keep all children at school until 4:00pm or 4:30pm. This additional hour can be used to lengthen the overall day with more time for recess, extracurriculars, language, or other enrichment programs that there is no room for otherwise as well as giving more time to engaging students in each lesson.
So a long school day works for families?
Yes and no. It certainly has its benefits and disadvantages, like any changes in school structure. Here are a few to consider.
In areas where children tend to struggle academically, having additional time in a supportive and structured environment with mentors and role models has produced notable improvements — like in Washington, D.C.’s public schools, which started implementing longer school days in 2013 and saw significant improvements in math and reading.
Parents also benefit, saving money on childcare and worrying less that their child is at home after school spending too much time playing video games, or potentially getting into trouble. Children have greater space in the day for extracurriculars and outdoors time between focused academic sessions. Lessons aren’t as cramped and there is more time for comprehension and depth to each subject — something the teachers appreciate as it sets students up for greater success.
For children enrolled in non-school-based extracurricular activities, having mandatory classes until 4:30 can interfere with scheduled commitments. Unless you live in a community where most of the schools have a similar schedule, many child-focused programs assume that children finish school around 3:00 and plan their activities accordingly.
For parents who enjoy picking their children up and planning activities as a family, this schedule provides one less hour of pre-dinner play time and may mean that homework time creeps a little later into the evening. Family schedules and dinners may need to be negotiated around this change, and you will need to consider ways to help your kid adjust to a new school schedule. Depending on how old they are when they make the transition, it may elicit more than a few protests from teens who want their time to “chill with their friends”.
Experienced teachers say…
“Promoting collaboration between classroom teachers and after-school educators, teaching artists and trained volunteers becomes a win-win for all parties involved.
Teachers’ hours do not cut into personal time, students gain exposure to additional role models who often come from their neighborhoods and mirror their own backgrounds, and working parents know that their children are safe and engaged in hands-on learning during the afternoon hours,” said Lucy Friedman, President of ExpandED Schools, in a letter submitted to the New York Times.
A teacher from Indiana says the benefits aren’t only academic: “The extended school day allows us to be more flexible to build in additional opportunities with our students, which ideally invests them in school and builds their character without missing too much class time.”
The advantage of an extended school day for working parents is clear, and the numbers are slowly showing that students benefit too. So check out our list of the top 6 cities for raising a family in 2017 — or take a look at moving to one of these top 5 states with the best after-school programs, as rated by the After School Alliance.
- California – With a funding initiative passed in 2006, California schools have expanded their programming significantly with 92% of parents satisfied with their afterschool program’s quality of care.
- Washington, D.C. – The District ranks number one in afterschool program participation, with 95% of parents satisfied with their afterschool program’s quality of care.
- Florida – A number of school districts in Florida have implemented the PlusOne initiative, which adds another hour onto traditional school programming for public schools.
- Vermont – Since the majority of the schools implementing extended school days are the charter and private schools, Vermont offers significant opportunity for exploring your options with its progressive education system. In 2014, the Vermont Legislature called for a Working Group on Equity and Access in Expanded Learning Time to determine the best course of action, indicating a strong commitment to this possibility.
- Massachusetts – Another state that has significantly increased its funding for afterschool programming, Mass has seen a lot of growth in availability of quality afterschool programming. The city of Boston specifically has a number of schools with extended school days, so if you’re looking to move to a new city on the East Coast, consider Bean Town.
Lastly? Make your move easier so you can focus on the kids! Professional moving services will take care of the heavy lifting while you coach your children for their first day at their new school. Everyone will breathe a little more easily.