Today is Ruadhri’s last ever school-free Wednesday. During his six-year school career here in France he’s never had to go to school mid-week, apart from on a handful of occasions when kids have had to show up on a Wednesday in order to earn a Friday or a Monday off around a bank holiday later in the year – to fait le pont.
Rors starts at collège in September and he’ll have half a day of school on Wednesdays. If he chooses to, he can spend the afternoon at school too doing optional extra sports. His brother and sister were never tempted by that but I hope Rors will be since they do some cool stuff – dancing, circus, table tennis and so on.
No school on Wednesdays may soon become a thing of the past for everyone. There are very serious mutterings about reorganising the school week for maternelle and primary schools. Doctors are saying the four-day week is too tiring for the kids on the school-going days. It is a long day, there’s no two ways about it. Rors is at school from 9am to 4.45pm. Add to that up to an hour each side for school bus journeys to and from school for many kids and that’s a very long day for children as young as three.
So what will the benefits be if there is school on Wednesday? Less exhausted kids who will have more time at home to unwind on school days. Parents who work outside the home will only have to find childcare for half a day rather than the whole day. Bus companies will get more income from an extra day’s services and presumably the teachers will be paid more too.
But there are disadvantages too. Wednesdays are a day of extracurricular activities. Kids can go off to swimming lessons and cycling club. Where will those fit in now? There’s a limit to how much you can fit in on a Wednesday afternoon, and the secondary school kids are off then too. Wednesday was always a convenient homework catch-up day. It meant not having to badger a tired, grumpy youngster into doing their homework after tea. They could wait till they were fresh next morning. It’s also going to mean another early start for kids rather than allowing them to have a midweek lie-in, even if it’s only an extra half hour. It’s also going to mean the roads clogged with school buses a fifth day of the week which is going to increase the costs to communes (they foot the bills for school transport for primary schools) and so the costs to the commune dwellers. It also means more pollution. And someone has to pay for the extra teaching time too ie the taxpayer.
Providing the change is being made for the children’s sakes then I’m all in favour. But it’s going to have a lot of knock-on effects that I hope have been properly taken into consideration.
I shall miss Wednesdays off. Working from home it hasn’t been too difficult coping with Rors and he’s a very self-sufficient boy anyway. We’ve done fun things like geocaching, swimming and cycling on those days. It was time to make some extra time with him without his brother and sister around. But … time to move on now.
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