List of Pros and Cons of a 4 Day School Week
As countries become more and more competitive with one another about providing the best possible schooling for their children, there is a large and vocal contingent that believes in the efficiency of the four day school week. They feel that children are spending too much time in school and not enough learning is being done.
Then there is other side of the argument, which believes that children should not have their schooling schedules altered in such a dramatic fashion. Leaving well enough alone is their primary concern. Valid points can be made on each side of this complex equation, so let’s examine the pros and cons that are involved in the implementation of a four day school week.
List Of Pros Of The Four Day School Week
1. Schools Save Money
In several instances, schools that have chosen to institute the four day school week do so because their hands are tied by growing financial concerns. One school district made the decision to switch to a four day school week after crunching the numbers and realizing that gassing up their school buses five days a week was essentially bankrupting them.
Operational costs can be cut across the board, which not only saves money for the school, but also saves residents additional income that is typically spent on school taxes. Schools can save up to 2 percent on their overall costs and they no longer have to give overtime pay to their support staffs. In some instances, schools have reported saving an even higher percentage when they assess their new four day school week budgets. Utility bills are another area of concern that the four day school week is able to address.
2. Improved Performance
While detractors had claimed that students who made the change to a four day school week would suffer academically, early studies have shown that students are responding well to the changes. Improved academic performance is just one of the many benefits of the four day school week. In one study, the results showed that students in a Colorado school district that made the change to a four day week were now performing at a level significantly above the national average, something that they could not seem to accomplish during a five day week.
Children are often able to focus more when they know that they have the safety net of a three day weekend. The four day school week increases efficiency and forces educators to spend more time on the truly important subjects. Because students are also far less likely to skip multiple days of school when they know there is a three day weekend every week, attendance increases, which is a catalyst for improved academic performance.
3. Promotes Responsibility
A four day school week is a great way to instill a sense of taking responsibility for your own actions in a child. Giving children an extra day off from school teaches them the importance of budgeting your time wisely. While getting an additional day off from school every week is the dream of many children, the four day school week does not mean that you receive a day off from completing homework assignments and studying for upcoming exams.
When a student receives more work to do independently, it increases their problem solving skills and also teaches them about the proper methods of conducting research. The extra day off helps students figure out their preferred pace of learning and allows them to choose the method of information absorption that best suits their individual needs.
4. Better Morale For Students and Teachers
If students and teachers alike are both given the opportunity to be well more rested and ready to engage with each other on a daily basis, this leads to dramatically improved morale across the board. When school personnel and students are able to give a greater effort four days a week, stress levels are significantly decreased. The five day school week can be a bit of a slog and the four day proposal eases the burden on both sides.
Teachers are just as susceptible to burning out as their students and since so many teachers achieve tenure, there is no simple way to root out teachers whose performance has slipped. By decreasing the teachers’ workload, students are able to receive an improved education without even having to change schools. Morale is also improved among student/athletes, who are now able to juggle their schedule without having to spend the entirety of their days off trying to play catch up.
List Of Cons Of The Four Day School Week
1. Lessened Focus
Some students are able to make the shift to the four day school week rather easily. They have the ability to adapt to changes and can appreciate the benefits of a three day weekend. However, other students learn differently and are not always able to handle the dramatic shift in the amount of time that they are able to spend with their teachers.
Detractors of the four day school week point to the fact that at risk children and those with learning disabilities may not be able to get the most out of a four day school week. The four day school week works best for a child who is self-motivated and does not serve the needs of children who do not learn in the same way. Longer days lead to a lessening of focus, which can cause grades to slip for students who already struggle with concentration.
2. Child Care Concerns
In modern society, most families either have two parents who work or parents who have divorced and share custody of their child. By switching to a four day school week, this increases the need for parents to spend their hard earned money on child care services during the week. While supporters tout the virtues of rotating the day off on a weekly basis to increase flexibility, this is not a cure all for working parents.
Instead of being able to take care of their children each weekend and maintain the same work schedule that they’ve become accustomed to, parents are forced to either spend additional money on a babysitter during that fifth day or adjust their work schedule to meet the needs of the child. Parents who work full time are forced to take on an extra burden that some of them are not able to handle.
3. Less Hands On Learning
Some students need the extra time in a class room and benefit from hands on learning methods. While there are certain children who can be handed a book that they will take home, read and absorb, there are others who need the stability of constant hands on teaching. These students learn best under the watchful eye of an experienced educator and do not do well when they are left to their own devices.
By depriving students of the time they spend with their teachers and the amount of hands on learning that they can receive, students who do not learn well independently could end up being lost in the shuffle. It is important for schools not to be blinded by extra money and higher test scores. Ensuring that no child gets left behind is just as pivotal.
4. Accelerated Pace Does Not Work For All
In order to institute a four day school week, a school system has to speed up their overall curriculum to make room for all of the necessary subject matter. Some students can handle the increased learning speeds with relative ease and respond very well to a significantly condensed curriculum. Others may feel rushed and will not learn at the same rate of proficiency as they did during the five day week.
Expecting every student to change their style of learning on the fly can be a very dangerous proposition. Test scores of the best and brightest students rise, lifting overall averages across the board, while ignoring the harsh reality that other children’s test scores are actually getting worse. When making a sweeping change to the way that we teach our children, it is always important to remember the needs of all children equally and not simply cater schedules to the gifted or advanced student.