Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chalk another one up for free time

A recent article as reinforced the fact that kids need free time. We have discussed this before in our entry on boredom as well as in the link on the alarming trend that boys are falling behind in school. Now new studies reinforce what any mother or father knows, kids need down time!

Interestingly in this day of No Child Left Behind and state and national standardization many schools have actually eliminated recess. Some estimate that up to 40% of all schools have done away entirely with the childhood institution with many more schools severely limiting free time. Administrators felt that time would be better spent cramming in as much teaching as possible. This trend hit poor performing schools the hardest, and these schools generally tend to be those that serve the poorest students. So recess was gone, along with art and drama and other classes that would have allowed students to move, express themselves creatively, and have a bit of down time. Now studies are showing that that was a desperately flawed decision when it comes to improving academic performance. Recess is a necessity. Children cannot be expected to sit through a six to eight hour school day without time to just be kids. The most recent research shows that children who have recess are more focused, can concentrate for longer periods of time, and are able to assimilate information more efficiently.

Academics aren't the only thing to show positive change when children have regularly scheduled recess, there are studies that link free time to significant improvements in behavior!

So, I was wondering how you structure your school day? I'm curious to know if you schedule your days after a school model or if it's more relaxed? Have you changed over time? What has worked for your family? Or is each child different? I know children who could sit still for hours, perfectly happy to just read and study, but most children need time to run and play. How do you account for different needs within your family?

To read more, here are links to some interesting and informative articles:
New York Times
Slate Magazine

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  1. I would love some feedback on how to do breaks and then get back to school... Being a home school, when I give a break or recess time, it takes FOREVER (really a very long time) to get them back on task... Suggestion?

  2. I appreciate this thought. I am starting my third year homeschooling my children. I have been lucky; they have always been home with me. None of us had to transition from us being seperated for a majority of the day. But even as a mom who never was in "the system" I still have felt the pressure to make sure I have enough for my kids to do. It was just over the summer my thoughts and feeling have changed. I appreciate the article on boredom. It has given me "permission" to allow my kids to be bored. When they come to me with the complaint of boredom, I no longer feel the pressure to entertain them. I have limited their electronic time, not to eliminate it altogether, but to all small amounts of time, as a reward, after tasks and chores are done. But even then, there are the moments that at least one child feels unentertained by his world. It's ok. He's doing great. He, as we all, need to learn to be ok with not being entertained all the time by our worlds. How could we ever "be still and know that (I) am God" if we were always so entertained?

  3. Our book work is Math, Reading, Spelling, Grammar, Science, Geography, History, Handwriting, and Bible. Bible, Reading, Math, and Spelling get an hour, composite, every day but Sunday - when we go to church. We hit Handwriting most days - and the other subjects get two days a week, usually. Book work is usually two hours in total, five or six days a week most weeks.

    That doesn't include art, p.e. (at the park), foreign language (ASL and Spanish), music (guitar lessons x2 per week), or the times when we get into dinosaurs or rocks or the human body - when we might have a project or research that (boy driven) goes on for HOURS.

    I am a big believer in down time.

  4. One of my kids complained recently that they don't have recess. My husband laughed and said something like "your whole life is recess, interrupted now and then by school work."

    We have a basic routine that does some school work during and after breakfast. Then again during and after lunch. If we are home, we gather again for more in the afternoon, but sometimes we are off doing other things like scouting or errands or exercise. This way of using meal times as a way to gather them together seems to work well for us right now.

    Free time seems to change as they grow. The older one does a lot more reading or writing or researching, because he wants to. I often have to suggest he goes outside to play or ride his bike. But the young ones still just want to play, play, play.

  5. Probably to relaxed here. It is 9:42 and my kids are still in

  6. Each day, we take a 30 minute lunch break and then a 30 minute back-yard break. The kids know that when the timer goes off, it's time to clean up the toys and get back to school.

  7. This is really interesting. It makes me feel sad for these kids, frustrated about why are we doing this to them and very grateful that I homeschool my children.

    Our school day has changed as my son has gotten older. When he was pre K through about 2nd grade we only had academic school time for about 1.5 hours. There really wasn’t a need for more. The rest of the day was him just having fun with his toys, reading, computer games and we would do some projects together like crafts or we would go places like field trips and to the park.

    For 3rd and 4th grade we did about 3 hours of academic schooling and seemed to always be able to finish before lunch. By the end of 4th grade I was noticing it was harder and harder to finish all our subject before lunch so we started to do science or history after lunch.

    Now for this year I decided to just make things easier because I have a daughter who I am starting to do some fun school things with and so we have school time between 9am and 3pm. No computer or video games during this time. We are able to go at a reasonable pace, take breaks and have down time between subjects. I let my son draw in his notebook or play with toys between subjects. Many times it takes me a few minutes to clear the table from one subject and get ready for the next and so this leaves 10 or 15 minutes for some down time. Some subjects that are challenging like math we will have a break after. I also read during our lunch break.

    My son does not have a ton of activities he is involved with we just do Scouts, so most days after school there is plenty of time to just play with neighborhood kids.

    Some of the reasons I am glad we homeschool is because of a shorter and more leisurely school day and no homework in the evenings along with extra curricular activities. Kids are just too busy now days.