December 6, 2018 6:00 am
Updated: December 10, 2018 11:10 am

Should Canadian schools have more recess breaks?

WATCH: The principal in Bruderheim explains why the school decided to add two extra recess breaks to the day and how teachers have been reacting to the change.

A A

View link »

LISTEN ABOVE: An extended interview with the principal of Bruderheim School

In an effort to increase students’ concentration and hopefully academic marks, a small school in rural Alberta has doubled the number of recess breaks.

The Bruderheim School, with 130 students from kindergarten to Grade 6, went from two to four recess breaks in September 2018.

“So that when they’re in the classroom, they’re more self-regulated and they’re more ready to learn,” Principal Paul McKay said.

Story continues below

The students arrive at 8:25 a.m. and head outside for the first recess at 9:25 a.m. Throughout the day, the students are not sitting in class for longer than one hour.

McKay said he was inspired by the Finnish education system, where every 45 minutes of classroom time must be followed by a 15-minute recess. He got the idea after reading a book by well-known Finnish educator, Pasi Sahlberg.

READ MORE: When should parents be worried about head bumps and bruises in kids?

“In my 20 years of education (in Alberta), this is the first time I’ve seen a model where they’re getting the kids outside four times a day,” McKay said.

“Recesses have ebb and flowed throughout the years, from three to two to long lunch hours. We’ve seen different variations of it, but as far as I know we’re the first school that’s doing this, at least in our division.”

Other schools, such as those part of the LiiNK Project in Texas, have also adopted similar models inspired by Finland, to increase recess and physical activity.

Watch – Most Canadian teachers would welcome a way to get students to focus more in the classroom. A small school in Bruderheim, Alta. says it’s found the answer: more recess. Kim Smith reports.

The Need for Recess

The change in Bruderheim comes amid a perceived trend in the opposite direction. Frank Welsh, director of policy with the Canadian Public Health Association, said an increasing emphasis on academic achievement has resulted in more time spent in the classroom.

“All those things that go on in school is important, but it’s equally important to get kids outside to learn things on our own,” Welsh said from Ottawa via Skype.

“The irony is, if you give kids more time outside to play, they’ll do better in school.”

Welsh said physical activity allows students to burn off steam so that when they’re back in the classroom, they’re ready to learn.

READ MORE: So your kid wants to be a YouTube star? Parenting expert says it’s not a simple yes or no answer

Teachers in Bruderheim are already reporting positive results. McKay said attendance rates have gone up by five per cent.

“One of those intangible things that you can’t measure is just a generally happier, healthier student. That’s one of the things that as a principal I take most pride in.”

McKay said the real determiner of success will be the mid-year and end-of-year academic assessments.

Bruderheim is located about 40 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

Watch – Feb. 15, 2018: Spring is just over a month away and for some Canadian students it will mark the end of a long winter. The cold Canadian climate can often push recess indoors, but how often depends on where you live. Laurel Gregory explains.


Want more ways to keep up to date? Check out the “Family Matters” podcast! If you haven’t subscribed yet — what are you waiting for?

Subscribing’s easy! Here’s how…

On your iPad or iPhone:

  • Open the Apple Podcasts app, search for Family Matters and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the Family Matters page, click the “Subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.

On your Android Phone or Tablet:

  • Open the Google Podcasts app, search for Family Matters and select it from the list of results.
  • Once on the Family Matters page, click the “Subscribe” button to have new episodes sent to your mobile device for free.
  • Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.

 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.