4 September 2008 08:57 AM

Four-Day School Week continued...

by Dr. Rick
If you’re in one of these school districts that are trying to balance their budgets at the expense of learning, here are a few things you can do at least to make sure the kids don’t see this as a vacation from learning but just a change in venue. Home can be a classroom, too, after all.

1. Stay involved. Make sure the decision-makers in your community have exhausted all other options, have been creative in their thinking, before they make draconian decisions like this.

2. Read. With your kids, read for information (newspapers, magazines, online news) about sports, current events, entertainment, subjects of interest that may not be covered in school. Read to perform a task (directions on how to make something, put something together, cook something). Or best yet, read for the pure joy of reading. Read aloud, you to them, they to you. Talk about your favorite parts. Imagine a sequel.

3. Do math. Find ways to do math at home. Have the kids help you figure out shopping on a budget, mileage during errands, ways to organize household chores. Let them see that math is part of your life every day.

4. Write. Have the kids keep diaries or journals about their days, their interests, their imaginations. Write stories. Write notes to grandparents. Write letters to favorite athletes, entertainment personalities, or government officials. (See which ones write back.) Write to the local school board with ideas about saving money other than cutting back on school days.

5. Research. Use the extra day to do some fun (but secretly educational) research about a topic you’re interested in. Family genealogy, the history of your town, the life of a favorite historic figure. Go to the library or a free museum. You’ll be surprised how quickly the right topic will grow into a mini-obsession.

6. Keep routines. A four-day school week does not mean an automatic three-day weekend or that learning can be put on hold for a day. Keep to those healthy study/homework/test prep/mealtime/playtime/bedtime routines. Kids need routines to build positive attitudes and values. A three-day break from school routine can be too much for some kids.

7. Be positive. Encourage the kids to use the extra day to stay on schedule with long-range assignments, projects, reports, and studying for upcoming tests. Get work done early to have more time as a family.

8. Expand. Just because the school system cuts time from learning doesn’t mean you have to. Consider supplemental educational services like tutors, coaches, or other experts who can help your child keep up or get ahead.

Is your school district considering cutting back on services in the name of “fuel savings”? I’d love to hear your experiences, your ideas, and opinions. Share them with us!


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