One concern topping the list for parent's is education -It's in everyone's best interest to ensure children are given the very best chance at success. We want to remove barriers and provide our children with opportunities that we, as children, didn't necessarily have.

While attending a college program, our instructor was giving a lecture on learning styles. During the lecture, he explained that a study discovered IQ tests of Grade 8 students in B.C. were 10% higher compared to their Washington State counterparts -A significant difference. He asked us to speculate on why there would be such a large difference. Was the level of difficulty different? No. Was the age of grade 8 students of the two jurisdictions different? Good guess, but no. Was there significant socio-economic discrepancies. No. Was there something in the air or water in BC that made kids smarter??? No. He explained that researchers discovered the difference was found in the number of days students attended school. Not hours per year, days per year. There is an important rationality that explains the difference.

Learning happens in cycles. People operate on a daily cycle. When students go to school they get exposed to new concepts. Later that evening, effective parents will discuss what the student learned that day. By recalling those new concepts and telling the story, the memories are further reinforced. The next day, an effective teacher will review the previous day's material -again, we see the reinforcement. This daily cycle of reviewing and recall is how long term memory is established.

For argument's sake, adding 10 minutes to each school day is not going to compensate for 4 complete days of learning. Sure, the hours of instruction might tally the same. But do you honestly think anything more is going to be learned in those extra 10 minutes? No -the student will simply be 10 minutes more tired.

Remember this fact the next time the issue of shortening the school year comes as a money saving 'efficiency' measure -most educators are salaried employees and therefore, they have a vested interest in decreasing the number of school days because each day they have off is another paid holiday. If learning outcomes are the measurement with which we are concerned, then 'efficiency' actually decreases by a shortened school year because learning outcomes suffer.


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