This blog post was written by Anne Marie Frassica, a former teacher in the Boston Public Schools, who is currently earning her MBA at Harvard Business School

Anne_Marie_FrassicaIn Kindergarten, kids are supposed to learn how to tell time – and tie their shoes, make friends, and, oh yeah, read. Sadly, I didn’t have time to teach them all of that. We learned a lot together, that’s for sure, but we could have accomplished so much more with an hour more each day.

My classroom, which was representative of many, had 26 students in it, all English Language Learners. A few students knew how to write their names and count above ten, but far more had few pre-literacy and numeracy skills. Some had parents who couldn’t read or write; only three had parents who spoke English. Many had never been to preschool. At least two thirds of the class was already a year behind by the time they entered my classroom.But according to the district, the end goal was the same for all of them – achieve the Kindergarten reading benchmark, move a couple levels on the English assessment, and do basic “story” problems using addition.

Each student would have 180 days and 6.5 hours each day to do it. Assuming I spent every minute of the day working 1-on-1 with children, each child could receive 15 minutes each per day – doesn’t sound like enough does it? It isn’t. My students didn’t get the attention they deserved. Here’s what they did get each day:

• 2.5 hours of English language/literacy (required)
• 1 hour of “specials” (art, music, gym, computers, or science) (required)
• 1 hour total of breakfast, lunch, and recess (required)
• ½ hour for bus arrival and dismissal (required)
• 1.5 hours at my discretion, to include math, social studies, science, motor skills, playtime anne_marie_quote

Here’s the problem. At minimum, Kindergartners should have 40 minutes of recess every day – at my school they get 20, maximum. The math curriculum suggests an hour a day, but I only had time for half of that. Science and social studies should be taught for two hours a week, but there isn’t enough time (or a curriculum for that matter). Kindergartners should have a half hour morning meeting to develop a community, practice using calendars, discuss the weather, etc. That community meeting comes out of discretionary time.

If we want well-adjusted, healthy kids in our schools, we need more time with them. If we want to offer free meals, in-school dental and health services, and other social services, we need more time. If we want school choirs, art shows, and science projects, we need more time. And if we are going to over-crowd our classrooms, we definitely need more time. I know we could’ve used it.