A balanced school day represents an adjustment to how recess and nutrition breaks are distributed throughout the school day. The actual length of the school day remains the same but the time within the day is “balanced” between two nutrition/activity breaks.
The reasons for moving to a balanced school day are two-fold. First and foremost, the balanced schedule increases instructional time by reducing time lost during transitions.
Simply put, we lose instructional time to provide students time to have snacks during the morning and afternoon as well as when students get dressed and undressed before and after recess. With the move to a balanced schedule we increase instructional time by up to 30 minutes a day and eliminate ‘peaks and valleys’ in nutritional needs.
The second benefit of a balanced schedule is that it allows for longer periods of time for students to eat. Rather than trying to fit in a quick snack before or after recess, students will be given two scheduled nutrition breaks during the day. With a scheduled nutrition break, parents can plan for snacks that are nutritious, rather than focusing on snacks that are quick and convenient.
Students require a healthy snack during the first break in the morning. Students will also need their regular lunch at 12:50 p.m. Parents are encouraged to pack the food separately so that students know which food they should eat at each of the breaks and to ensure they have sufficient food for the day. If you are picking your child up for lunch, lunch-hour is 12:50 to 1:45 p.m.
So what does the day look like?
Essentially, the day is divided into three 100 minute teaching blocks with a nutrition/activity (recess) break after the first and second blocks. During the first nutrition/activity break (10:40 – 11:10) students are given ample time for a light snack, washroom break and recess time. The second break is from 12:50-1:45. Students will have a longer time for lunch and recess time outside. The length of the school day remains the same; school will start at 9:00 a.m. and students will be dismissed at 3:25 p.m.
Schools that have a balanced schedule report positive benefits such as the final part of the day being “energized” and students being less hungry at the end of the day.
Some of the benefits of a Balanced School Day are:
- Maximized instructional time throughout the day due to fewer interruptions, especially during the winter months
- Making time for good nutrition promotes good learning
- Children are not as hungry at the end of the day
- Reduction of litter on the playground