So it’s that time of year again. Fall is in the air, football is on TV, yellow school busses are on the roads. Yes, it’s back to school time!
Many middle and high schools are beginning to shift from a traditional schedule of students attending all classes each day to a “block” schedule where students attend half their classes each day on an alternating schedule.
Block scheduling provides a lot of benefits to schools. From a funding standpoint, it helps reduce the amount of staff since a specialized teacher can teach at two different schools on alternating days instead of each school hiring a teacher. For teachers, longer class periods mean they can delve deeper into a topic and incorporate different types of activities into the lesson. From a logistical perspective, fewer classes per day means fewer times during the day when students are roaming the hallways.
For students, block scheduling allows them to focus on fewer subjects per day. This also means homework can be easier since the longer class periods may reduce the amount of homework plus only half the subjects are due each day. This, of course, makes the evening a bit easier on parents as they only need to figure out how to help with half the classes per day! Add in the similarity to a college schedule, and students become better prepared for future time management.
Here are a few tips to make the transition from a traditional schedule to a block schedule easier.
If the printed schedule does not reflect the order of classes by block day, retype the schedule. For example, the scheduling software used by some schools has not been updated for block scheduling. This means the schedules given to students list all classes in alternating order. It’s well worth the time to redo schedules so students can see exactly how their day will go.
Invest in two backpacks. Kids have to lug textbooks, notebooks, and other supplies constantly. With two backpacks, they can load each one with the materials needed on the appropriate day. This minimizes the amount of time spent packing and re-packing, the frantic trips back in the house for whatever they forgot, and just the sheer volume of stuff that ends up crammed in backpacks.
Encourage the school to post the block schedule “day” on the school website. When kids attend all classes each day, it’s easier for parents to keep up with the days’ activities. If the parents lose track of which schedule day it is, it becomes more difficult to keep up and help the student transition to block scheduling. This becomes especially important after school holidays or if a student has been out sick for a few days!
Teach the student how to use a planner. Since classes are every other day, it’s easy to forget or overlook an upcoming assignment. Using a planner or calendar helps the student think about time management, keep track of upcoming assignments, and remember any extracurricular commitments.
Shifting to a block schedule can be a pretty significant transition for middle and high school students (and parents). Using these tips can make the process a bit simpler for everyone.