This past year our school implemented a “Recess Before Lunch” initiative. Research suggested that we should see the following benefits from this approach:
waste less food
students calmer and ready to get to work immediately, showing increased attention and ability to learn
better lunchroom, playground, and classroom behaviors, as children are focused on lunch rather than the playground and they return to class feeling more full and settled
decreased number of nurse visits
less lunchroom supervision required
decreased discipline referrals from the playground, cafeteria, and hallways
Below is the data that we collected throughout the year to gauge the effectiveness of this change, as well as comparison data from school year 2017-18, when we had students eating lunch first, then going out to recess.
Discipline Referrals by Location:
This data reflects the referrals collected during the lunch timeframe, as well the transition of 5th grade back to their classrooms after lunch (11:15am-1:30pm). The number of students referred from year to year was virtually identical, and the number of referring staff remained constant.
Data on Visits to the Nurse’s Office:
Health Room Data during Lunch & Lunch Recesses
Visits between 11:00am-1:30pm (September-April)
Members of the Parent Ad-Hoc Committee analyzed and discussed the implications of the data above during their May 15th meeting. After much discussion about the lack of evidence supporting the continuation of the initiative, the Parent Ad-Hoc Committee members concluded that teachers should make the final call on whether or not Recess Before Lunch continue.
During the Learning Improvement Team’s May meeting, teachers reported the following:
playground location makes the entire initiative a challenge; time is lost in transition
1/3 of class is still eating at lunch pickup time
no noticeable difference in classroom on-task time since making this change
it is a challenge to settle students down when returning to class; class time is lost in calm down activities
Teachers were also asked to rate the Recess Before Lunch change on a scale of 1-5, where 1 represents the program having a negative impact and that we should not do it again and 5 having a positive impact and we should continue this approach. The average score from teachers was a “3”.
Due to the fact that we have not seen the positive results that research suggested, coupled with input from support staff and 3rd-5th grade students, North Bend Elementary will return to a schedule where students eat lunch in the cafeteria for 20 (or more) minutes, after which they can be dismissed for up to 15 minutes of recess time. We will keep the extended lunchroom time that went into effect this past school year with the hope that this allows students sufficient time to socialize while consuming their lunches. With the change in schedule, students who eat at a more leisurely pace will now be able to remain in the lunchroom for up to 30 minutes, which adds even more eating time for those who need it.
Thank you to the staff, parents and students who helped provide valuable feedback and insight throughout the school year.