Friday, September 13, 2019

And another thing!

"The CDC, SHAPE America, and other national organizations recommend giving elementary school students at least 20 minutes of recess daily," so our school gets to check this box. In fact, they exceed expectations by 10 minutes. And that's cool. I guess.

Rachel is currently in a PE class, so she gets physical activity every other day at school, but next semester she won't be in PE. And then she won't get any sort of break (and by and large high schools and middle schools are unaware that the CDC recommends recess—physical, often outdoors, active breaks from classes—in addition to PE classes for upper school students. So it's not surprising that there isn't a break built in.

However, this is about elementary school. The CDC offers some guidelines on how to offer recess, which includes:

  • Prohibiting the replacement of physical education with recess or using recess to meet time requirements for physical education policies.
  • Providing schools and students with adequate spaces, facilities, equipment, and supplies for recess.
  • Ensuring that spaces and facilities for recess meet or exceed recommended safety standards.
  • Prohibiting the exclusion of students from recess for disciplinary reasons or academic performance in the classroom.
  • Prohibiting the use of physical activity during recess as punishment.
  • Providing recess before lunch.
  • Providing staff members who lead or supervise recess with ongoing professional development.

(Source is here).

My kids came home from school today complaining about a thing called "owing recess," which basically means that if their class is too off-task and chatty during lesson time (because how could they NOT be, considering recess isn't until the end of the day and they literally aren't allowed to freely talk the entire day) then instead of recess they have to "walk laps."

I guess technically that isn't preventing students from physical activity during recess, but it certainly feels like they aren't allowing kids to...have recess.

What if instead of "owing recess" the teachers said, "Wow. We sure are chatty today. Let's take a few minutes to run around outside and then come in and settle down to business."? I honestly think they'd see results. I mean, that's what homeschoolers do—"I can't focus on this right now. I'm going to...take a shower...go for a math instead and come back to this later." At least, that's what I did as a homeschooler. Anyway...I just...why would they have the kids walk laps instead of just...letting them be kids?!

I think the school would benefit from having recess before lunch—earlier in the day to give the kids a rest, get hungry for lunch, and so forth.

My mom commented about our blissful years in BC. Here is the current schedule for that school:

Supervision Begins 8:45 AM
Warning Bell 8:55AM
Morning Session Begins 9:00 AM
Recess Begins 10:20 AM
Recess Ends 10:35 AM
Lunch Period Begins 12:08 PM
Afternoon Session Begins 12:55 PM
Afternoon Session Ends 2:55 PM
Supervision Ends 3:10 PM

Note the 15 minute morning recess (for the entire school) and then the 47 minute lunch period (which includes more outside play time, where the entire school is on break at once). The entire day is just under six hours with about an hour of "break" time. Also, they have QDPE in Canada (Quality Daily Physical Education), so they have PE every day. In addition to morning recess and lunch recess.

Our school schedule here:

Supervision Begins at 7:45 AM
Warning Bell at 8:10 AM
Class Instruction Begins at 8:15 AM

And then children's lives are highly regulated until 2:45 PM.

That's 6.5 hours in school with a half hour of "break time," if you're lucky and you don't "owe recess." Like, whenever recess is. Each grade goes out on a different schedule (so there's no finding your sibling at recess if you should ever desire to, for example). Lunch is a joke (but I think it's just nationally a joke, having been through four elementary schools now).

The first class to have lunch is in the cafeteria from 10:30 until 11:00, which is truly a generous amount of time for lunch. I do wish that children had the option to scarf their lunch and then play outside. But they don't. If they finish lunch early they just have to sit in their seat (because, as we learned, getting up for any reason is a punishable offense).

Classes then trickle through at—and excuse me as a tear up laughing—three minute intervals. So, like another class comes in at 10:33 and is in the cafeteria until 11:03. I understand this is to help ease the burden on the lunch line. But it's still humorous to me.

The last class is in the cafeteria from 12:32 until 1:02.

So, yes. That's 6.5 hours in school with what, I suppose, amounts to 1 hour of break time. But half an hour of that break time you have to sit in one spot (with lunch monitors breathing down your neck to make sure you don't "misbehave" by cleaning up the previous occupant's chocolate milk, for example), so I'm not sure that's much of a break.

Mercifully, our children are allowed to talk at lunch. Some schools do silent lunch (both our schools in Durham had a silent lunch policy and several friends who have kids at other schools have mentioned their silent lunch policies).

Our children have PE one day a week in elementary school.

So, basically, what I'm saying seems to be a recipe for disaster. 


  1. Sometimes my middle school class gets too rowdy so I send them outside for a few minutes to let off some energy and then we come back in more focused on singing. Older kids can get restless too! It's so much easier to let kids run around for a few minutes than try to force them all to be quiet.

    1. Emily, see, evidence! You are a great teacher, because you care about the kids! I am so glad you are in a school that supports that, too!

  2. That BC school sounds wonderful! I remember, all growing up, we had a morning recess, lunch recess, and afternoon recess. Awesome. Here supervision starts at 7:30 and school starts at 7:50 (my kids think it's "morning recess") and then they have 20 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for recess (or vice versa, all in a row). They do have PE everyday, and they finish at 2:25. Anyways, it's fun reading about your homeschooling experiences, keep up the details, I like it! Although I'm still catching up. :)