The present philosophy of Education of Horry County Schools is that the longer a child is in school each day, the more he/she learns. Small children are just little adults and can sit for long periods of time, go on eight hours of sleep, and stay focused on their teacher. A nine-hour day starting at 6:30 a.m., counting the time on the bus, is supposedly reasonable. If the child fails to stay focused, the child can be drugged out on ADD drugs. If the child gets behind, he/she can go to summer camp and be furthered tortured. The child doesn’t need to relax and eat breakfast; he/she can have breakfast in the classroom and learn while eating. The child can also have snack in the classroom while learning. The child may be sleepy but does not need a nap. After all, the child has to cram sounds and facts. If the child isn’t making giant strides in reading for a 5-year-old, the child can be forced into a longer day.
The child has work stations, not play stations. After all, the child is a little adult and can work a nine-hour day. The work stations are on the child’s frustration level to make the child struggle.
Ten minutes of free time is sufficient. After all, the child doesn’t have to develop muscles or let the brain relax.
The gifted and talented students in Horry County all through their 12 years are pushed to their limits to score high to bring up the scores of the children who are placed on their frustration levels thereby making them score lower than they would if properly taught on their instructional levels with ample down time between tasks. These children will carry this stress all their lives.
Teachers do not need a break.
The results of this philosophy have diminishing returns because the children are tired, sleepy and stressed out. The result will be young adults with anxiety attacks, irritable bowel syndrome, and inability to sleep and accumulated stress. It could cause the child to have a nervous breakdown. We all have a breaking point. Some people have a higher breaking point than others.
A mentally healthy philosophy of education does not allow a child into the school until 8 a.m. The day ends at 2:30 p.m. The child has time at home to finish his/her sleep cycle. The small children have short lessons of 10 to 15 minutes followed by children’s songs or learning activates that are action packed. The child has an art center, a block center, a dress up pretend center, a sand table, a computer center, a play store, a lego center, etc. The child has play stations – not work stations.
The child has a 15-minute break at 10 a.m. and at noon the child has a 30-minute lunch break followed by an hour of play. Then the children are brought inside and allowed to nap. If some do not nap, the teacher has time to give individual attention in reading or math. After the nap, the children may be given a short science lesson either indoors or outdoors. The kindergarten children are allowed to plant and harvest a garden. The teacher or parent may cook the food grown by the children for them to eat.
The teacher is always free to change her schedule as the demands and attention spans of the children indicate. The teacher knows her students mind-sets and attitudes by observing them. The children have their choice of a popcorn party, an ice cream party, or a ball game of at least 11/2 hours each week as a reward for good behavior and work well done.
The result of this philosophy will be strong, mentally healthy, happy children that grow up able to take the stresses of life better.
Little children’s prayers are very powerful. It is my prayer that all parents will teach their children to pray for mentally healthy and happy schools so that we may have mentally healthy and happy children.
The writer lives in Conway.