As I begin to plan curriculum and schedules for the new school year, I’ve been toying with the idea of a four-day week. When I first heard of this idea, I was quite skeptical. How could it possibly work?
How could you fit all of your content into just four days?
How could you fit in 180 days (the PA requirement) if you’re not having school each weekday?
After researching, talking to a homeschool mom about her four-day schedule, and simply thinking logically, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is very possible. There are two ways a four-day school week may function.
METHOD 1: The Extended School Year
In Pennsylvania, the school year runs from July 1 to June 30. If you began on July 1, you could easily hold school for only four days each week, throw in holiday vacations, and finish before the end of June. The negative aspect of this method is, obviously, the lack of summer vacation. Here in PA, people love their summertime freedom. Although my children do some work on reading and math, we never hold formal school days. But, even if you started at the beginning of August, you could still finish by the end of June, only with less vacation days, and have a full month off to recuperate. The positive aspect of this method is having only four days of planning and grading for the parents, and four days of work for the students…and a long weekend every week for everyone.
METHOD 2: The Not Really Four-Day Week
Let’s be realistic. Public school students rarely work all day long. Elementary kids have recess periods, breaks, and free time mixed in with their academic lessons, not to mention party, movie, or field days. Secondary students have 3-5 minutes between each class; down time when teachers must take attendance, answer the phone, discipline poor behavior, or write out passes; study halls; and the occassional movie. Oh, and don’t forget the field trips. All things considered, public school students are not getting 180 days of learning. If a homeschooler did four days of academic lessons each week, the fifth day could be for physical activities, such as karate or swim practice; music lessons and lots of practice time; nature hikes through the backyard or at a park; educational videos; hunting or fishing excursions; or trips to the museum. These all are activities that should count as a day of school, while not requiring workbook pages or essays. This fifth day would be informal, but still involve learning. So the four-day week is not really a four-day week after all, but rather four days of book learning, plus one day of other learning. This schedule would allow for a longer summer break, and still have vacation days during the school year.
While I’m not yet sold on the four-day school week, it is something I’m considering. With a gifted musician who is becoming more involved in playing outside of the home, I am open to trying something new.
What is your opinion about the four-day school week? Do you have any experience with it? What do you think would be other benefits or disadvantages?