Many parents (working and homemakers) are concerned about the effects that the longer school day proposed by the State College Area School District will have on children, especially the younger ones. Unstructured play time is essential for healthy mental development and has been linked to academic achievement, the same can be said about family time. Play leads to improved cognitive function, social understanding, problem-solving and provides opportunities for self leadership. Lack of play correlates to increased rates of anxiety and depression in children.
The SCASD board and administration have mentioned that play will be incorporated in the extended school day; however, only one recess is proposed for the longer day, allowing teachers to choose if they want to implement extra breaks. Currently some teachers do not incorporate extra play time in younger grades, dedicating instead their time to instruction, we know our teachers are under a lot of pressure to achieve academic goals imposed by the state Department of Education. Furthermore, some lower grades in certain schools do not have recess until after two o’clock, defeating the purpose of recess as a means to relieve stress and improve learning. The longer day paired with proposed bus routes, some longer than an hour, would result in some children being at school and in the bus for more than nine hours.
A big part of our community feels that this proposal needs to be further refined before approval to provide adequate busing times and unstructured time that fosters mental well-being and leads to academic excellence.
Constanza Ehrenhaus, Boalsburg