DR. WALLACE: My parents were born and attended high school in France. They told me that most European students spend more days at school than American students do and they think we should go to school more days.

When I was in school, I asked my teacher how many days we spent in school and she said roughly 180 days. Is 180 days for a school year sufficient? — Just Wondering, via email

JUST WONDERING: American students spend less time in school than most students and other industrial countries. Your teacher is correct.

Based upon my experience, many American educators would actually disagree with your parents. The consensus is that 180 days of productive education per year is ideal. Other countries have longer school years, with some European countries averaging 195 days per year.

Most American administrators agree that our school should be in session about 180 days and as a former high school administrator, I would agree.

I am aware that the number of days a student spends in school doesn't necessarily guarantee a quality education! It's time well applied that truly helps provide a quality educational experience. And speaking of time, your letter only addressed the number of days, not the actual hours of instruction. As you might imagine, the number of hours varies greatly around the world — and even here in the USA. In fact, Texas is known to require slightly more hours than the average American state.

It will be interesting to see how our public-school schedules resume once the COVID-19 pandemic eventually ends. Will all future public education be held in person on campus? Or will a hybrid method using remote learning become a supplemental tool as well? Time will tell, and I, for one, will be most interested to see what evolves next.

DR. WALLACE: Our 15-year-old son was given a new bicycle for his birthday because he promised to always wear the properly fitting headgear we bought for him. We love our son and want the very best in safety for him.

All parents should require their children to wear headgear when riding a bicycle. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, bike riding is the sport leading to the second-most emergency room visits in children. Parents are encouraged to insist that their child wear a proper fitting helmet.

It's also imperative to teach children to walk their bikes across intersections. Finally, instruct your children to obey all traffic signals and signs. Children are the most important things to their parents, and protecting them from harm is a must. Sorry to harp on this, but I just want all parents who read your column to be aware of just how important bicycle safety is. It only takes a few minutes to sit a child down and have a serious and memorable conversation about bicycle safety. — Big on Bike Safety, via email

BIG ON BIKE SAFETY: Thank you for your important bicycle safety tips. They provide parents with useful information to help keep their children safer when riding a bicycle.

You are quite right to point out those very sobering statistics. A child who fully understands the rules and the potential consequences of failing to obey them is much more likely to focus on safety first. I send kudos to you for your passion regarding the safety of our precious children. I trust many parents will read and heed your wise words.

Dr. Robert Wallace will answer questions from readers in this column. Email him at rwallace@galesburg.net.

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