Traditionally when you imagine a school or a class full of students you envision students in rows writing vigorously in their notebooks or warming up with some math problems projected on the white board. As critical as these activities are, schools that are expanding learning time are finding ways to shatter this “traditional image” of the typical school day.
Take for example Fort Logan Elementary School in Sheridan, Colorado. This year, every student spends additional hours at school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons, participating in art, music, dance, martial arts, leadership, and science classes. The expanded time also allows for additional reading instruction, to ensure that even students who are falling behind are able to catch up and read at grade level.
Without the pressure to squeeze every subject into the school day, Fort Logan is able to foster natural curiosity and enthusiasm for school by providing awesome classes such as the very popular tae kwon do class. When we interviewed Fort Logan 4th grader Gael, his excitement for the types of classes his school offers could not be missed. Getting to dip his hands into things like drumming, science, and tae kwon do have helped him to discover what he might want to be when he grows up (a cartoonist!). Expanding learning time has helped him think more broadly about his future and what possibilities lie ahead.
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that there are kids out there that want to be in school more. But we know that there are. Given the right opportunities, students are ready and willing to stay, engage and learn wherever those activities take place. And Gael is just one example.