Should Our Children Be Spending More Time in School?

BY: - 14 Jan '13 | Parenting

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Ah yes, the beloved winter, spring, and summer school vacations. Our children love them while oftentimes us working parents have mixed feelings about them. It’s not that we don’t want our children to get to have a vacation; it’s just that many of us don’t have the available time to take off from work and care for or be with our children. Instead, we are forced to find childcare, convince relatives to help out, or have our children become latch key kids instead of playing and hanging out with their friends like they do during recess.

With some possible changes underway, long summer vacations just might be a thing of academic school years past. As reported by The Huffington Post, due to the fact that American students “have fallen behind the world academically,” it is believed that a longer academic year will be in their best interest. By adding more days to the school calendar teachers will have the ability to invest more in their students because they will have more time to “enrich instruction.”

What is now being referred to as a pilot project will result in approximately 300 additional hours being added to the school days of thousands of children in five states including New York. Another benefit to the additional school days is the access that lower income students will have to the nutrition they receive in the form of school meals.

While the idea of a longer school year seems beneficial for various reasons there are opponents to this concept, some of them being parents. To find out why not everyone is in favor of a longer academic year as well as more on the subject visit The Huffington Post.

BMWK, what are your thoughts, should the length of the school year be longer?

About the author

Krishann Briscoe wrote 32 articles on this blog.

Krishann Briscoe is a child welfare professional turned freelancer with a background in child and adolescent development and social work. In addition to authoring her personal blog His Mrs. Her Mr., Krishann is a contributor for Disney's Babble, The Conversation and The Conscious Perspective. Krishann resides in Southern California with her husband and their two daughters.

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6 WordPress comments on “Should Our Children Be Spending More Time in School?

  1. Ronnie Tyler

    I have mixed feelings on this one. They need to get the curriculum together first…because more days to go over a poor curriculum is not the answer. When I graduated from college, I realized…no more summer breaks…what I wouldn’t give to have the entire summer off. But, by the end of the summer break..I am ready for my kids to go back to school.

    1. KrishannB Post author

      I also have mixed feelings particularly when it comes to schools that are already lacking resources and support from parents and the rest of the community. School is most beneficial when parents and teachers are working together…that said, I too long for the summer breaks I had as a student 🙂

  2. Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

    I don’t think longer school years is a bad idea. It may cost more money though. We homeschool our children, and find it better when they are schooled pretty much year-round. When our kids get significant time off bad habits creep in, and they sometimes have to relearn or at least resharpen skills they have developed. I am sure the same happens to traditional schooled kids. In addition, once they enter the real world, most work is not seasonal so that can help prep them for life after school. An education is lacking if it doesn’t prep students for what happens after school.

    1. KrishannB Post author

      It would be interesting to hear more about your experience homeschooling your children. You do raise a point, sometimes information is lost over the summer break which is why some schools do a little bit of review during the beginning of the school year. As for work, most of us don’t get to have seasonal jobs (although that would be nice right?) except for teachers (!!) and other school personnel. Although, this isn’t the case for all.

  3. Cheryl

    I think that although well meaning, the argument for extending the school year for better performance is flawed. The studies cited do not conclusively support that more hours equals greater success. In fact, they cite 2 countries where that is not the case. I think our children would be better served if we observed the methodology the teachers in better performing countries use, and see if those methods could be adapted for use here.

    The chid care issue definitely needs to be addressed. If that is the driving force behind extending the school year, then say that. I get it – I have to deal with half day kindergarten. But teachers are not babysitters, and I fear that that is what the extra time will become without fundamental changes to the how children are taught. i am interested in what educators have to say about it. I would like to see a study concentrating on teachers – not administrative teachers, teachers in the classroom daily – have to say about what they think would help them to push our kids to excellence.

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Baby Blues & Postpartum Depression: It’s Ok to Admit You Need Help (Part 2)

BY: - 16 Jan '13 | Parenting

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It is estimated that 1 in 5 women in the U.S. experience postpartum depression. In part one of our interview, we spoke with Quiana Wade, a PPD survivor who cares so much about the well-being of other moms that she wanted to share her story. In this interview, we caught up with Dr. Johannson for a deeper understanding about PPD.

Is there an under diagnosis of PPD?

The hard part is there is a grey line between postpartum blues (which is more common), and postpartum depression (which is much more serious). It can be hard to tell the difference and some people prefer not to expose that part of themselves. They don’t want to seem like they can’t handle it.

What is the difference between Postpartum/Baby blues (PPB) and PPD?

I think the biggest thing is the transient nature of the baby blues. Mothers have moments or days in which they feel down, unworthy or just overwhelmed. That’s a very common thing in the early parts of the postpartum period. But it’s interspersed with other parts of it that they enjoy. They still enjoy their baby and still get pleasure out of their child. There are up periods and not just downs. The ups will become more frequent over time.

Depression tends to be much deeper and lasts much longer. They don’t get pleasure in dealing with the baby and sometimes they either feel negative or violent. It’s hard sometimes for people to admit it because it seems like such a “bad mother” thing to feel negative towards your baby. PPD is also much more dangerous [to yourself and your baby]. Unlike the baby blues, PPD will usually take some type of intervention (not necessarily medication).

Are there any specific triggers that women can watch for?

I think of it in three different parts, and this is just from my experience:

  1. If someone has a biological trigger, they can almost see it coming. They’ve had problems with depression throughout their lives so it’s something they’ve battled with. It’s important to know that they are highly susceptible to having PPD; not only because of the physical and mental demands, but also due to changes in the hormones.
  2. There are some people who are just susceptible but have never really had problems with mental health. But they have been overwhelmed and dealing with stress; so that added to the hormonal triggers, will push people into PPD.
  3. Then, there are a lot of women who don’t have the proper source of support in place. They are having relationship issues, spousal issues or they don’t have a spouse there to help. Or, they have someone at home who is either abusive or just not helpful at all. They could also be socially isolated for one reason or another.

I always joke with my patients that when they go home, they should feed the baby, feed themselves, and sleep. That’s it. They shouldn’t have to do anything else — cook, clean, pay bills, pick up the kids — none of that. But unfortunately, that’s not part of our culture.

Our social situation is not ideal a lot of times. There are so many in our community that have very little of a social safety net. It doesn’t negate the fact that there’s a biological part to this, but it’s very clear that there is also a social aspect. The psychological burden tends to be higher in the African-American community. There’s also more of a stigma (in our community) in seeking out mental health care.

What advice do you have for spouses in terms of being able to recognize the warning signs, and offering their support?

If they know they have a problem already, have a conversation with her about starting to see a counselor during the pregnancy stage or immediately after delivery. If they don’t know they have a problem, it’s important for the spouse to understand that she is not expected to do anything. Just know that she’s going to have bad days, but she’ll have good days too. If they are all bad days and no good days, then there’s a problem and that’s the time to seek help. It’s the job of the spouse and family/friends to kind of be on the look out for these signs.

What are some of the long term effects when PPD is left untreated?

Long term effects are also on the baby because the baby needs emotional relations. Babies’ brains are developing so they are wired to relate at this point, and the mother is the most important person to relate with. For the baby, having a mother with depression is a bad thing. Mothers who are depressed do not take care of themselves, which can lead to an increased risk of engaging in alcohol, drugs, etc. The worse case scenario is that they can hurt the baby or themselves (even commit suicide).

What do you want readers to take away from this interview and from the importance of understanding PPB and PPD?

I want them to really understand that moms need help. It is absolutely vital for her psychologically, and for her to be able to get a good start with the baby. They have to be aware that this exists. Don’t just sit and wait for it to get better.

Dr. Joshua Johannson

Dr. Joshua Johannson is the Director of Cheaha Women’s Health and Wellness in Anniston, AL and specializes in OB/GYN. He is also the Co-Chair of the Alabama Breastfeeding Committee and founder of Northeast Alabama Baby Cafe.

BMWK: Why do you feel there is a stigma attached to mental health as it relates to the African-American community? Is it because we are too blessed to be stressed?

 

About the author

Christine St. Vil wrote 147 articles on this blog.

Christine St.Vil is co-author of the Whose Shoes Are Your Wearing: 12 Steps to Uncovering the Woman You Really Want to Be. A happy wife to an amazing hubby of 8 years, and homeschooling mother of three, she teaches moms how to FLY (First Love Yourself). She uses her corporate background to work with women who are ready to start a new business, accelerate their career growth & design a life they love. She's on a mission to help moms to battle the mom guilt epidemic, so they can begin to put themselves first on their never-ending list of priorities.

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