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Tufts E-News: Saturday School Too Much

Tufts E-News: Saturday School Too MuchTufts Expert Says Expanding School Week To Include Saturdays May Have Negative Consequences

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.30.01] While a growing number of educators around the country are calling for expanded school weeks to improve falling test scores, a Tufts child development expert says Saturday schooling may harm students more than it helps.

"I have a real concern about how children are going to feel about themselves if they're being singled out as needing remedial work and having to spend their Saturdays in school," Tufts' David Elkind tells The New York Times Magazine.

Instead of serving as a study aid, the child development expert at Tufts says, Saturday classes could easily become academic punishment.

"There is a potential emotional cost in terms of kids feeling that they are being punished because other kids don't have to go to school on Saturday."

There are difficult social implications as well.

"If these kids are having trouble during the week and are being teased because they are not doing well, to be singled out again for weekend classes could have some real serious consequences," the Tufts expert says.

Too many children are already "over programmed" with schoolwork, after-school activities and college preparations, Elkind says. Saturday school days, he notes, will only make the problem worse.

"Down time is important for kids and they don't have enough of it," Elkind tells the Times Magazine. "If a child is undernourished [educationally], you want to give them more nourishment, a high-calorie diet to bring them up. But if a child is already on a full-calorie diet educationally, then giving him or her more isn't going to do anything," he says.

Increasing demands on students, Elkind says, may cause more students to simply burn out.

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