February 03, 2010

Should kids have recess before lunch?

"No lunch until after you've finished your playtime!"

While those of us who were used to going from the cafeteria to the playground might think it's odd to have kids burn off their calories before they've eaten, a recent New York Times blog post suggests that having recess before lunch can yield benefits for both students and schools.

Schools that have tried it report that when children play before lunch, there is less food waste and higher consumption of milk, fruit and vegetables. And some teachers say there are fewer behavior problems.

“Kids are calmer after they’ve had recess first,” said Janet Sinkewicz, principal of Sharon Elementary School in Robbinsville, N.J., which made the change last fall. “They feel like they have more time to eat and they don’t have to rush.”

However, there are also concerns that the idea might not be universally workable.

Children’s health experts note that such a switch might not work in many urban school districts, where lower-income children may start the day hungry.

“It’s a great idea, but first we’ve got to give them a decent breakfast,” said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the obesity program at Children’s Hospital Boston. “A lot of kids skip breakfast and arrive at lunch ravenous.”

You can read the full post here: Play, Then Eat: Shift May Bring Gains at School

Last week we started a TwtPoll on Twitter and Facebook asking whether kids should have recess before or after lunch. The responses were pretty evenly split, with some suggesting that the best option would be to set aside some extra time during the school day for both morning and afternoon recess.

So where do you stand on the chronology between recess vs. lunch? How would you minimize the problems involved?

the buzz in play, lunch, recess, schools