Recess — It’s Not Just For Grade Schoolers Anymore

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High school is crazy. I wake up at  like 7 a.m.. Then I rush to get my stuff together and go to school. Once I’m there it seems like it goes on forever before there’s a break.

Getting to class at my school isn’t that hard. But it’s not easy to fit in other activities like talking to friends, using the bathroom or getting a drink of water between classes. And I’m not alone. Lots of us, including other kids at Youth Radio, say they’re always running behind.

“Passing period is like 30 seconds, to two minutes. They just rush us a lot to get right back to class, so they need to just stop with that,” one of them said. Another friend told me, “Your next class could be on the other end of the school, so it’s like five minutes really don’t cut it.”

I have four classes before lunch — my first break after almost four hours, and there’s barely enough time to go get food. After lunch: two more hours of learning. It’s really tiring. I’ve even fallen asleep. You might think having a busy schedule is just a part of high school, but I found out, that’s not always the case. Not everywhere.

I spoke with Adam Bunting, the principal at Montpelier High School in Vermont. “In what adult work setting do we ask people to be on and engaged for 8 to 10 hours straight?” he said. “I don’t think adults would stand for it and I don’t think students should stand for it.”

Last year, his school switched its entire schedule around to free up 15 minutes right after lunch —  for recess.

“I think our idea is giving students the ability to critically think to play, to have fun to provide students with some energy. Something just different in the day, which is important,” he said.

Inside the gym, a group of students is playing music during their recess. Outside, 17-year-old junior Fox Winters is playing a game called Can Jam. Basically tossing frisbees into a trash can. He said that when the school first started offering recess, he was skeptical.

“You know it seemed like an odd concept to have at a high school. But right away the ability to relax during what is for me at least a generally stressful school day is a great opportunity,” he said.

Winters said that since his school started offering recess, he’s felt more focused. And Principal Adam Bunting says that, based on what he’s heard, grades in general have improved.

It makes sense if you consider the science around productivity. One study I found suggests splitting up your schedule into an hour of working or learning, followed by about 15 minutes of moving around and socializing to help people retain focus throughout the day.

If only my school would get the message.

By the end of the school day, I feel pretty tired. But if I had a little break or some time to move around, I think I could do better in and out of school.

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