A school day that begins at 9 and ends at 6 is one of the pre-election murmurs coming out of the UK. That’s a 9 hour day. Okay if you’ve got a well-paid high profile job, I can see it being worthwhile, but where’s the incentive in it for children? I’m writing this from Australia, but we have our own agitators. And our politicians have a history of borrowing ideas that don’t work elsewhere.

Picture this, mum has been working and comes home exhausted; the child has had an equally frazzled day. (Imagine it in winter when it’s dark and you’re feeling dark yourself.) No one wants to communicate. It’s time for dinner. Or are the schools providing it? A little telly and then bed for all, or maybe mum wants a little ‘me’ time first after her long hard day at the office, the poor thing.

Children should be at home, relaxing and bonding with family is the lobbyist’s contention, not overburdened with school work. It’s a mystery how this can be achieved if school lets out at 6, then home at 6.30 then dinner (who makes it?) then both hard working mother and hard working children flopping down on the coach for some ‘me’ time, then bed. No one has the energy for extra-curricular activities.

Longer school hours is an idea that is meant to suit busy working mothers rather than hard done by, overworked children. Children are already doing ‘before’ and ‘after care’ (I think of it as doing time) but that’s the choice of those mothers, why foist it on the rest of us? Some of us like(d) going over the school day with our children and helping them with their queries. That’s where the bonding comes into it. And if mothers think it would mean relief from child care fees it’s only short term. One way or another the government or the schools will find a way to make those mothers pay.

Not children bonding, but children missing out on family time is what I see. Children are being raised by their teachers. One responsibility at a time teachers are undertaking what was once traditionally a parent’s role. Thankfully my children are all grown up. I have to wonder if parents are ever going to take (back) responsibility for their own progeny.

And who seriously believes that longer hours mean better learning outcomes for all? There are always going to be children who don’t get it in a crowd of thirty and are afraid to ask, or children who ask but don’t want to ask a second time.
Homework and assignments introduces children to research and to the work ethic. Great if they ever get to University, and great training for those who make it to the workforce. And of course it’s not (as we are constantly made to feel) that children are merely finishing what they hadn’t completed at school. Even half an hour a night will reinforce what children have learned during the day. A much more preferable option (if you’re thinking of the children) to two and a half extra hours of (more of the same) slog at school.

10 thoughts on “Working Nine to Five

  1. I don’t think 9-6 is a good idea either. I think the kids will get burned out. Most jobs around here begin at 8 anyway. I was lucky in the last few years of my two oldest kids to be off at 4, unless I had extra work to do. I agree, the schools need to be back to teaching, not taking care of the kids. I don’t even like when sports get scheduled on holidays or coaches require summer participation. I didn’t make my kids, and unfortunately, the coaches didn’t play them as much. They need family and they need to be kids. At least at daycare, they get to play and be in a family environment if you have them in home daycare like I did. I was lucky to have a few friends who ran daycares to watch my kids. 🙂

    • Teachers need to get back to what they do best which is teaching and kids ‘need family and they need to be kids. Old fashioned views these days, Julia, so glad you agree. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

  2. What a huge topic with lots of possibilities. Times change I guess, but all progress isn’t good.

    In any case, the 9 to 6 bit probably isn’t a drastic change for many families.

    I think, if it was researched, we’d find long day care centres (looking after kids from maybe 6.00 am to 6.00pm) have been running for at least 25 yrs or so here in Aus. They provide before and after school care and all day care for the very young, even babies. Last year I read of a centre venturing into 24 hr care to cater for shift workers. They would have to be well paid shift workers it seems.

    Maybe 9 to 6 in one place would be better for some kids already doing hard time. Less resources, perhaps less cost, the latter would really represent progress!

    What about kids in boarding schools? No Mum (or Dad) to greet them after school and listen to the daily happenings in their life.

    It’s hard to picture a family scene these days. How many kids come home to the smell of their Mums cooking, knock over some play and some homework then jump on their Dad when he gets home? Sounds good but…..

    How many latch-key kids do we have these days, left to their own devices until a parent comes home? How many kids are farmed out to friends or family until the parents come home?

    Maybe the 9 to 6 idea isn’t so bad. Parents just have to be okay with someone else raising their children most of the time.

    • I can see your point, Bruce. But if school hours are officially extended, it means that parents who want their children home at a reasonable hour will have no say in it.

      The extending of hours has nothing to do with the teachers needing to do more to earn their pay and it’s not for the benefit of the children. I think this business has to do with the needs of working mothers.
      I’m forever asking why people have children if they aren’t prepared to raise them.

      • Sorry for the late reply Mary. In my own rambling way I meant to say that I agree with you.
        I like the one you descibed above and agree that the hours proposed are to accommodate working parents.
        Haven’t studies been made and released about the optimum hours etc for kids to concentrate at school? That’s why we have the current set-up. Seems contradictory to then extend the day for them.
        I don’t know of school hours in other countries; maybe Australia is one of few left that do the 9-3 bit.

  3. Nine to six is a terrible idea. You know full well children will still have homework. There would be very little family time during the week. I’m in agreement with you on this, Mary.

    We were home from school every day by 3:30. We had time to play before dinner (even with mom), and there was plenty of time for family in the evenings. We didn’t have the volume of homework that kids have to deal with now, too. This would be terribly sad if this came about.

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