A Half Day every Wednesday??
Our school schedule & routine in Ireland is quite different from the States!
Brianna and Billy leave the house at 8:10am, walk about 500m and board the LUAS (a public transportation train). They are on the LUAS for about seven minutes then hop off at Milltown where a High School bus is waiting to drive them to school. This is quite a change from boarding the big yellow bus at 6:40am in the morning in Maryland!
Primary School Timing . . . a much shorter day but longer year
Alyssa on the other hand, leaves the house around 8:30am and we walk 1.2k to her elementary school that starts at 8:50am. In just 5 and a 1/2 hours, we are back at school to pick Alyssa up at 2:30pm. This is such a difference in the length of primary school time from the States! It might be an overall shorter day in Ireland, but primary schools here go through the end of June, so the time evens out over the course of the year. It just creates a juggling act for parents when you need to be back by 2:30 for pick-up. Remember - there are no school buses for Alyssa. Everyone walks, bikes or gets dropped off, so that means there literally needs to be an adult at school for pick-up . . . or as they say here in Ireland - "a childminder is there to collect the children" ;-)
3 Seasons of Walking Alyssa to School
Big Difference for Secondary School: Half-Day Wednesday!
Now let's get back to the secondary school schedule for Brianna and Billy. Their school day in Ireland starts at 8:55am and runs till 3:55pm, but get this - every Wednesday, they have a half day and are out by 1:15! Now when we first moved here, we were quite shocked that they had a half-day every single Wednesday! My first reaction as an educator was "oh my goodness!" They must have a half-day every Wednesday for professional development. How amazing is that?!?! It's something we have always dreamed about in the States, but it’s just not feasible.
Fast forward a few weeks into school . . . we finally realized why secondary schools have a half-day every single Wednesday - for sports!
are used for matchs!! Rugby for Billy and Hockey for Brianna
Since September, every Wedesday afternoon, both Brianna and Billy have either a home or away match. If it's an away match, they hop onto a chartered bus bound for a neighboring secondary school. After the match, the bus brings them back to school and parents are there for pick-up or kids walk/ride bikes home.
This has been a huge change for our sporting schedule, but I am very intrigued how it works from a educational perspective. The kids know they have a half-day on Wednesdays. They plan for it and truthfully - they look forward to it after 2 long academic days. The concept of a set chunk of time during the week devoted to extracurricular activities is very intriguing . . .
What do you think?
Is this something that could be implemented in the States? Would it make it easier for high school sports, athletes and parents? Would it interrupt classes less since everyone would have a set-time for activities? For it even to be considered, all districts would have to adopt this schedule and then of course most American school districts have the added challenge of transportation. Regardless, if it's just for the year that our family gets to experience this unique school schedule, it has certianly opened our eyes to what other cultures value in terms of educational time and sports. Wednesdays this year are crazy, but at least we know it's one day of chaos!
On that note - I've got a rugby match and hockey match to attend!
Disclaimer: I do not know what the teachers responsibilities are on Wednesday afternoons. Maybe they do have PD?