In rejecting a longer school year, Paddy B. Bowman and Pauline Arnold seem to view time in school as punitive. According to their letters {"They're Just Kids, for Heaven's Sake," Oct. 25}, providing more time in school is not so much opening doors of opportunity for our children as it is "robbing them of their childhood." Whatever kind of children are they talking about? I cannot believe that my children or most of their friends would sit "glassy-eyed through an extra month" of school. They have enjoyed more of their school subjects than not. Sure, if asked they would say they prefer vacation to school. They would also say they prefer candy to cabbage, but I don't plan the family's meals around it.

Pauline Arnold thinks there is already too much pressure on children and apparently assumes that learning must be a stressful process. Poppycock! It becomes stressful when too much material must be covered in too little time, or so quickly that a student gets only a superficial grasp of it. Or when too much of the time that is available must be devoted to preparation for standardized testing, leaving little time for the pleasures and satisfactions of stretching one's intellectual horizons.

Eudora Welty may have learned everything she would ever use in her writing while lying on her stomach in the summer watching ants, but even discounting the possibility of some poetic license on her part, such summers simply are not the reality for most children today. Like it or not, most of them will eventually seek jobs from employers who are going to demand certain skills -- skills that must be learned in school.

Finally, a society in which most children spend more time in front of a television than they do in a classroom can hardly be accused of not allowing them sufficient unstructured time in which to "relax, daydream and play."

GENEVE S. MAROON Washington