List of Pros and Cons of a Four Day School Week

The United States has begun to take a much closer look at their school systems and many states are currently brainstorming about ways to make the school week more efficient. Children deserve the best education possible and any developed country will always look into the best ways to provide a top notch learning experience for their citizens.

As such, traction for the four day school week has been on the rise in recent years. Many educational experts firmly believe that the current school week needs to be tweaked, in order to maximize the amount of learning that is done while in school each day. The opposing side of the argument is in favor of continuing with the traditional five day school week and sees no benefits to making such sweeping changes to the educational system. The following is a closer examination of the pros and cons that must be considered when discussing the effectiveness of a four day school week.

List of Pros of Four Day School Week

1. Happier Teachers and Students.
The learning experience is essentially a never ending tug of war between teachers and students who both slowly become exasperated with one another by the end of a long school year. By shortening the school week to four days, teachers and students are both able to dedicate more of their energy to getting the most out of each day of learning and are significantly more well rested.

The school year can also be quite stressful and there are often long periods without a proper break. By incorporating a three day weekend into every school week, students and teachers are much less likely to experience burnout. Students often burn out, but teachers (especially those with lengthy tenures) are just as likely to experience mental and physical fatigue over the course of a school year. Four day school weeks help everyone to better balance their schedule.

2. Teaches Children Real World Lessons.
When children attend schools with four day weeks, they learn more about how to properly handle their day to day workload and receive a glimpse of what life is like in the real world. Children who experience an additional day off at a young age are taught how to use their time wisely and spend less of it goofing off. Extra days off must be used for studies and homework.

A four day school week means spending more time studying independently and many children are able to flourish under just such an arrangement. Children learn the importance of solving problems on their own and about the dangers of failing to budget time in the proper manner. Providing a four day school week allows children to learn these lessons in a low stakes environment.

3. Increases School Systems’ Financial Stability.
Every school that institutes a four day school week does not do so because they are forward thinkers, some do so because their budget has been stretched tighter than a drum and has finally reached a breaking point that cannot be ignored. Simple expenses such as utility bills for the school itself and the cost of keeping all school buses up to date on repairs and filled up with gasoline can start to take a toll over the course of a year.

Schools who decide to cut one day out of their work week are able to significantly decrease costs, which keeps them from having to discontinue popular programs that students enjoy, such as music study or art classes. The schools are not the only entities who save money, as the cost to the taxpayer is also significantly reduced. Lowered school taxes is a boon to the taxpayer, especially those who do not have children of their own.

4. Bolstered Academic Performance.
A number of studies have shown that students’ academic performance is not adversely effected by the switch to a four day school week. Several specific school districts who have swapped out their typical five day school week for a shorter one have reported increased academic performance and higher testing numbers across the board. This also has a positive effect on funding, as many states determine how much money a school will receive by their standardized test scores.

School aged children are more likely to perform better academically when they know that they have three days each week to rest, recuperate and study their materials. A teacher must also increase the focus on their lesson plans, as there is less time to waste on subjects that are not important to the student’s future. Less days of school also tend to augur better attendance, which is helpful to a student’s development.

List of Cons of Four Day School Week

1. Students Often Struggle To Focus.
All students are not adaptable and those who fall into this category may not be able to handle change as easily as their more focused counterparts. Detractors of the four day school week have spoken at length about the need to continue the five day week, as a four day week could be the straw that broke the camel’s back for children who are on the fringes and struggle to learn in the same way.

Children who are at risk of dropping out and children who do not learn in the same way as their more conventional classmate may end up being left behind in a four day school week scenario. A student who is already struggling to keep their grades at an acceptable level and does not focus well may not always do well with longer school days and/or more free time on their hands.

2. Not All Students Learn At a Rapid Pace.
The five day school week provides children who do not learn at the same rate of speed as some of their classmates to receive additional help from their teachers. By shortening the school week, the school is tacitly admitting that they need to boost the rate of speed for their entire curriculum. While children who are not used to the current curriculum are unaffected, those who are may experience a decrease in academic performance.

All students should not be expected to completely alter their learning methods and in many instances, it is not reasonable or feasible to ask them to. Children have different needs, depending on the situation and five day school weeks keep these children from falling in between the cracks. A four day school week may work wonders for the upper echelon student, while destroying the potential of the more unique students out there.

3. Child Care Struggles Increase.
For many parents, being able to afford a babysitter on all of the days that their children have off is a struggle. By adding another day off to the typical school week, parents are forced to either take an extra day off themselves or foot the increased babysitter bill. Some parents have the flexibility to handle the change to a four day school week, but many do not.

In the majority of modern households, both parents are employed full time, making it incredibly hard for them to alter their schedules at the drop of a hat. While some school systems have attempted to change the children’s extra day off on a weekly basis in an effort to help out parents, many simply cannot handle the changes and may even be forced to quit their jobs, which could have a long term effect on the economy.

4. Less One on One Learning Time.
Certain students are at their best when they have the chance to spend one on one time with their teachers and ask questions directly. Some students are able to simply read the assigned materials and learn lessons using that method, but others require a teacher’s individualized attention and effort in order to reach their true level of potential.

Students who have their one on one time with teachers taken away often experience a decrease in their academic performance and their enthusiasm for learning may even wane. If a student is not skilled at learning by themselves, they could end up being forgotten about over the long haul by teachers who do not have the same amount of time to help them.