Is a four-day school week a good idea?

A four-day school week is being proposed.  This is probably one of the worst ideas ever (other than allowing the mutilation of children).

American children are not reading at grade level, are not proficient at math at grade level, and are not being taught basics like civics and how to write using cursive.  Soon no one will be able to read the original founding documents — the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, etc.  Is this where we want our country to be?  Who will be the creators, the inventors, the authors and great American thinkers we have had?

When I was a child (I just turned 78), other than kindergarten, we had a pretty full day of school, plus homework.  Somehow I still found time for other activities — dance lessons, piano lessons, acrobatics, voice lessons, and lots of involvement in my church.  And then there was reading.  Lots and lots of reading.  I had an "aunt" who was a kindergarten teacher and gave me age-appropriate books every year for Christmas.

In those days, the TV was controlled by the father or mother of the house.  There were no remotes or devices to play on.  If your parents said the TV stayed off, it stayed off.  We spent time together as a family, eating meals together, playing board or card games together — and reading, usually on our own.

We also talked to one another — something else that is fading from our society.  We didn't just talk about our day's events; we discussed national and international issues.  Notice I said "discussed."  Often there were disagreements, but never raised voices or name-calling.  You could actually have a civil discussion with someone whose political values didn't align with yours.

I think that due to the influence of my "book aunt" and my parents, I grew up with a love of reading.  I knew all the librarians at our local library — and yes, I brought my wagon with me to put in all the books I was allowed for my trek home.  I first read "A Midsummer Night's Dream" when I was about ten because the bookcase was in my room at that time.  In high school, I didn't have to pick a book from the "approved" list for a book report.  I had already read them all.  I just had to choose a book that would then be approved by my English teacher.

Back to the four-day school week.  Children today don't play the way children used to.  They sit in front of a TV, tablet, or phone, and what they do learn is from these screens.

The new docudrama coming out soon on Netflix has Cleopatra as a black woman.  She was Mesopotamian, so the movie is not historically correct, and by no means a documentary.

Children should be outside playing and getting exercise, or if that's not feasible, inside reading good literature.  They don't learn about the past, or even current events through a lens of partisanship.  It's mostly one-sided and not truthful.  I don't remember who said it, but it is still true — if you forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it.

This idea also needs to be looked at through the lens of the parent (or parents).  Most working people don't have the opportunity to work from home.  And even if they did, they would be getting paid to perform a job — not provide childcare.  Childcare is expensive, and most families can't afford it.  What would happen to these unsupervised children?  Gangs?  Dealing with drug addicts?  Locked in a room in their home while their parents are working to provide for basic necessities?  None of these is a good option, but what are the alternatives?

Children are our most precious asset and our future — to be nurtured, loved, and taught what it is to be a good person.  Well taught children turn into decent adults.  We need to do better, and a four-day school week isn't a good start.

Claire Hawks is a pseudonym. She can be reached at She is long retired from both her nursing and I.T. careers.

Image: f_a_r_e_w_e_l_l via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0 (cropped).

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