The following article was posted in the Cincinnati Enquirer at the beginning of the month:
More Students Feel Lunchtime Crunch
The article exposes a problem that is happening in a lot of the area schools, including the school I teach at. The problem: Children do not have enough time for lunch and recess, and as a result, many children are cutting their lunch and meal consumption short to get to recess. Those children who do choose to finish their meals have limited time at recess...sometimes as little as 5 minutes.
At Fairview this has become quite an issue... we have exactly 30 minutes for lunch and recess. That might sound like a lot, but it is important to realize that this time also includes walking to lunch (2-3 minutes...and this is only because my mentor teacher and I make a point to leave the classroom a little early. The other day when we were 'late' or really on time, it took us 6 minutes just to get to lunch because all of the teachers were trying to get through the hallway at once, which is practically impossible), the children who are buying getting through the lunch line (1-2 minutes), the time it takes to get to recess (1min), and lining up for dismissal from recess ( the children are always cleaned up when we get out there...and we are 1-2 minutes early). That is 7 minutes just in transitional time. 23minutes. For lunch and recess. With elementary age children.
So it comes down to this..lunch or recess? If the children choose lunch, they get the fuel they need for the rest of the day, but they miss out on the equally important time to burn some energy, exercise, act like a kid, and get out the jitters before the rest of the day (and trust me they need to get the jitters out!). If the children choose recess, which I suspect most of them do, they miss out on a meal or part of a meal...and take a guess which parts will be left...I don't think I need to explain to you the importance of eating a meal.
Will it change? Should it change? Is a few more minutes of instructional time worth it? I believe that you can get higher quality instruction with your students if they 1. are hungry (I mean really, who can concentrate when they are hungry...I sure can't) or 2.Can't sit still. Another equally important thing to realize is that lunch and recess is a time that is less structured for children to really form social bonds and develop socially. I don't know about you, but I think social skills are pretty important (if you need proof I can introduce you to a few people without them).