How are kids spending their time?

A wonderful teacher I know recently posted a meme on Facebook, and, in honor of back to school for most kids in the US, I thought I’d take a moment and give my perspective.

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As a homeschool mom, I’m 100% in agreement that parents should carry the responsibility for their children. It’s why I chose to homeschool in the first place!

However, there is something very wrong factually with this meme. Let’s begin with 365 days x 24 hours. That gives us 8,760 hours per year.

The average school year is 180 days. In our district, students in middle school have to be at school by 7:30 and don’t get out until 3:30. That’s 8 hours a day x 180 = 1440 hours.

The average bus ride for students (not including time waiting at the bus stop or the walk to or from the bus stop!) is 35 minutes each way in some counties in the US–let’s round that to 30 minutes. (Although according to one district, a drive time of over an hour each way is perfectly acceptable!) That’s another hour (at a minimum) per day or 180 hours a year.

The average homework time for a student in jr. high is 70 minutes a day, but from what I hear, it’s more like 2 hours a day! Let’s skimp and say that they are truly only spending an hour on homework each night. That’s another 180 hours per year on homework.

Now, we’re up to 1800 hours spent at or on school–double what the photo claims.

Children should spend at least 10 hours a night sleeping— that’s 3,650 hours per year. That leaves parents with only 3,310 hours with their children.

Of that time, I’m guessing that at least two hours a day is spent on getting ready for school–both packing lunches, backpacks, etc, and actually bathing, getting dressed (on average about 30 minutes per day), eating (on average 60 minutes per day), etc.

Honestly folks, the numbers don’t add up. Students who are attending public schools are NOT getting a huge amount of time with their families. They are spending more time at school or in the process of getting to school or working on school than participating in family life. And my numbers don’t even count extra-curricular activities! Add in an extra 2 hours of practice before or after school, and there’s not much time left in the day!

Those 2,600 hours that are left (if students aren’t in extra-curricular activities) are either on the weekends, holidays, or during the summer. Let’s be honest here…the majority of kids’ parents work, so they are not spending all those summer hours hanging out with their children. Those kids are again out of the home at daycare, other activities, etc. In fact, I suspect that the time most students spend with their parents is actually the opposite of this meme!

Truly, though I 100% believe that parents should be taking responsibility for their children, the current system does not really give them much space for doing so. (It also doesn’t give children much time to be children, but that’s a whole different post!)

The reality is that parents should be taking more of an interest in their children’s progress in school (with what little time they do have with them). Teachers, who really don’t have much if ANY one on one time with each child–should not bear the responsibility for raising the children in their care, though school systems might want to figure out ways to reduce the time spent in school and certainly the time spent on homework! From my outside perspective, parents could be making better choices to enable them to have more time with their families, and schools could be doing a better job of ensuring that children get that time.

Now that I am thoroughly stressed out by the picture these numbers create…I will just be thankful that I homeschool and I get to have my kids with me 24/7! For better or worse, my children’s progress and behavior is 100% up to me.

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