Out-of-school time should be just that

your say August 22, 2014 01:00

Re: "OBEC to cut school hours", National, August 20.

The news that daily school hours are to be reduced is welcome indeed. This is being done to help provide a better school-life balance. After all, what counts is surely the quality of the time spent at school rather than the (currently over-long) quantity. The reality is that youngsters could learn just as much in a slightly shorter school day.
However, two further concerns need to be seriously addressed if children are really to have more free time available.
Many parents enrol their children for extra afternoon or evening classes at tutorial colleges, some of which are little more than exam cramming units. That eats in to the free time that youngsters need for their development. 
To help ensure a child enjoys a balanced life, these extra tuition classes need to be limited to no more than two a week.
It is also not unusual here to see youngsters plugged in to mobile gadgets hour after hour, which completely cuts them off from the face-to-face interaction that is vital to developing social skills. These days, lots of youngsters spend much more time alone with a computer than they ever do playing with groups of other kids.
Both these types of after-school activities have their advantages, but both need to be limited if the hoped-for extension of important playtime is really to happen.
Paul Surtees
Chiang Mai