Schools in Shanghai are extending after-school hours to help parents, an action in response to a call by the Ministry of Education.
At Hongkou District No. 2 Central Primary School, students now leave campus after 4:30pm, an hour after regular classes end.
Zheng Yan, the principal, said the school offered three options for students — review studies and homework until 4:30pm; take part in club activities until 5pm; and stay longer to 6pm.
“All the students have chosen to leave after 4:30pm, with more than 43 percent until 5pm and 15 until 6pm,” Zheng said.
Zheng said each class had a teacher to help students with their homework and to develop their time management.
“Our teachers also monitor whether students can finish homework at school, and the results are preferences for them to adjust assignments if necessary,” she said. “They can also review the homework in front of the student and explain to students about anything they don’t understand.”
Most of the students can finish homework before going home, said Zheng.
There are also 25 club activities for students after school covering traditional culture, artistic performances, academic study and sports.
Shanghai Daily saw some students learning to play the guzheng, a 21-stringed traditional Chinese instrument, practicing tea art, playing with a Rubik's cube and playing tennis on Tuesday.
Some of the activities were guided by the school’s teachers, while some were taught by professionals, Zheng said.
For the 15 students staying until 6pm while their parents are working, teacher volunteers would take them to the playground for sports, or they can read books borrowed from the school library.
Parents have welcomed the services.
“The new action of the school has helped us save time, money and energy,” said a mother surnamed Ji, whose daughter is a fourth grader. “My daughter now finishes her homework at school, leaving more family time for us. Meanwhile, we don’t have to take her to cramming schools or training organizations.”
Students are also happy to stay in school longer.
“I can spend more time with my classmates. Otherwise, I would go home early and do homework alone, which is a little bit boring.” said Chen Liyuan, a fourth grader. “Now most of the time, I can finish homework at school.”
Chen has also chosen to be a voluntary guide at the school’s exhibition hall on Monday and play tennis from Tuesday to Thursday.
Xu Youting, a fourth grader, said he loved to stay at school longer.
“I love the playground most and playing with my classmates alone makes me happy enough,” he said.
He takes part in folk music appreciation, reading, a marching band and body gesture training.
Du Yumo, another fourth grader, said it was more efficient for him to do homework at school than at home.
“At home, I would eat some snacks and watch TV after arriving at home and finish homework late,” he said. “Now most of the homework is done at school and my parents would not push me to do homework at home anymore.”