Recess: An Important Part of A High School Schedule

High school students are under a lot of pressure. There's academic stress, extracurricular activities, homework, social life with friends and family life. All of these are happening while schools are holding their students to higher standards than in the past. Students tend to have to give something up and it’s usually their free time and sleep. Research is beginning to show that students need a break in their high school schedule. They need time at least once a day to clear their heads and to get some fresh air before tackling their other commitments. Recess in the high school schedule is somewhat unheard of, though.

Students need a break to refuel.

Most schools consider “recess” as students going to their lockers to pick up books and arriving at your next period on time. It's the high-energy students who normally need a recess. At the same time, though, it’s these students who are getting in trouble in class because their learning style is not sitting still for 40+ minutes.

The body needs exercise during the day.

It doesn't benefit students to be sitting in the same position for 40+ minutes at a time. Exercise—even when just walking around—releases stress in the body and mind, which makes the student more receptive to learning new things. You tend to remember more facts and concepts when you're less stressed. Check out this study reported by The New York Timeson how exercise can help us learn.I believe students learn better when their efforts are distributed, not concentrated, into a specific time frame. Jobs have mandatory breaks when you are allowed to snack, use the bathrooms and walk around. High school schedules should encourage this, as well.

How do you fit recess into a regular high school schedule? Recess An Important Part Of A High School Schedule pinterest

As of right now, most schools have 20-25 minutes for students to get their lunches and eat. Classes last about 40+ minutes per subject. Schools are open for six and a half hours per day. Needless to say, the high school schedule is very tight with limited amount of leeway. Montpelier High School in Vermont rearranged their high school schedule so that students had an extra 15 minutes every day to do many different activities. They have come to call their recess time “MHS Unplugged”.

The issue of high school schedules needing to contain a “recess” was discussed by a debate team at KQED. There have been a few successful projects at schools thanks to the cooperation of parents, students and faculty.

  1. Some schools use parent volunteers and community partners to supervise a recess. This has not been the most successful because at times, volunteers forget and do not show up. Some students do not obey and/or respect these volunteers and treat them badly. So, the volunteers don’t return and spread the word. This affects the entire student body because of a hand full of students.
  2. Schools have hired extra substitutes to work in the office, tutor students and to oversee recess. Once again, you do not get the luxury of hiring a substitute for the substitute. Sometimes, these subs are overbooked during the day and can’t oversee recess and work in the office at the same time. This is where “outside of the box” thinking has to come into play.
  3. The most successful programs are when recess is included into the  high school schedule. Students sign up for a 15 minute yoga class, art class, reading club or other activity. These “time outs” are supervised by the current faculty. Students begin to really know their teachers and vice versa. The activities change frequently, so the students have to check a central place to find out where and when the activities will take place.

There is evidence that high school schedules that have “recess” time have helped the entire school community. Students make new friends who are interested in the same activities as they are. Teachers get a chance to relax without having to think of planning or conducting a lesson.  For 15 minutes each day, the entire school takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly.

If you're a student who needs to walk around or fidgets during class, a school without a scheduled recess is not the place for you. If you're a parent who has been told that your child can’t concentrate, stay focused or is constantly moving, that learning environment may not be the best for your child. Consider enrolling at Enlightium Academy. Enlightium is a fully accredited online private Christian school that allows students to work at their own pace with a flexible schedule. Our affordable tuition, individualized curriculum, and simple admissions process maintains the advantages of a home school education while also preparing students for college. Additionally, Enlightium offers record-keeping and has worked with families in all 50 states to meet state requirements. Feel free to call us at 866-488-4818 if you have any questions about transferring to Enlightium Academy. 

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