The school schedule has long been a bone of contention for just about everyone involved in education — from teachers to parents to administrators. Do kids have to get up too early? Are there enough academic hours to cover all the material kids need to learn in a school year? And are school hours really designed to support families?
Currently, school schedules vary wildly from state to state and district to district. Kids don’t even attend the same number of school days a year. Oregon kids, for example, spend 172 days in school and average 6.57 hours in school per day, according to National Center for Education Statistics data. On the high end — day-wise at least — Georgia students spend 181 days in school, averaging 6.79 hours per day. And of course, there are the schools offering year-round school schedules and four-day school weeks.
Put it all together, and it’s … a lot. So when the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into it all, we decided to sit down and take a look at what school hours actually look like around the world to see — is there something we can learn from the school schedules in other countries?
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School Hours Around the World
Finland School Hours
Finland’s education is ranked among the best in the world at number three, so starting with Finland’s school schedule is a no-brainer. Typically, the Finnish school day starts anywhere from 9 to 9:45 a.m., and students typically spend only about five hours a day in the classroom. What’s more, Finnish students typically have little to no homework. As for teachers? Finland’s educators spend significantly less time in the school building than their American counterparts, and they’re required to obtain a master’s degree, with tuition covered by the government.
Australia School Hours
With a school year that runs from late January to December — after all, the continent experiences winter and summer at opposite times of the year from the United States — Australian children have a markedly different school schedule from American kids. School days in Australia typically run Monday to Friday, and they usually from 8:30. to 9 a.m. until 3 to 3:30 p.m., but the land down under has been debating a change in the school hours for a while now.
Brazil School Hours
Brazilian students are required to spend 200 days at school, according to information from the National Education Bases and Guidelines Law of Brazilian Education, with July off and typically some time out of school for Carnival and the government-mandated school holiday, Recesso Escolar, which happens at the end of the year. And yet many children only attend school for four hours per day, attending either a morning or afternoon shift. Teachers in those areas often take on double jobs to receive a full-time paycheck. School is only required for kids from age 7 to 14.
Italy School Hours
Compulsory education in Italy starts at age 6 and lasts till age 16, where school typically lasts from around 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., including five hours of academics and a lunch break. The school days may be shorter, but Italian children typically attend a full day of school on Saturdays!
China School Hours
China is well known for its rigorous education system, but like many large countries, its school schedule varies depending on where students live. In large cities like Shanghai, for example, Chinese students spend 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at school with an hour and a half for lunch, but in other areas, kids get to head home for nap time at lunch! The school day tends to be extended for secondary students, and many spend additional hours in academic-related pursuits outside of school, such as math Olympiad or English classes.
Russia School Hours
Russian kids spend about half the amount of time in school than American kids do with the Pew Research Center estimating Russian primary school students spend 470 hours in the classroom during the school year, compared to the 990 hours required in 35 American states. Russian school schedules extend from Monday to Friday in most places, with kids typically attending from about 8 a.m. to 1 or 2 p.m.
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Chile School Hours
The honor for “most time spent in school for elementary students” belongs to Chile, where data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows young kids spend 1,007 hours in school every year. With a school year that typically kicks off in March and extends to December, Chilean school schedules often run from 8 a.m.to 2 p.m or 4 p.m., depending on the area and grade levels. Like Australia, this southern hemisphere country offers its winter break in what American kids consider summer.
Kenya School Hours
Ranked among the top of African countries in terms of education, Kenya typically educates its kids between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. with an extra hour and 15 minutes afterward for games and clubs. Primary education became free in the nation in 2003, boosting attendance by a whopping 40 percent! Secondary schooling is also free.
France School Hours
Love Paris in the springtime or the fall? There are plenty of reasons for French kids to love it — many French kids get half a day on Wednesdays off for a nice break in their school schedule. Then again, French kids are required to attend school from age 3 to 16 with attendance at French preschools or écoles maternelles free and mandatory. French schools also tend to have large class sizes, with a norm of just one teacher in a classroom of 30 kids, and some schools may swap in a Saturday school day.