Winnipeg school reaping rewards after putting scheduling to the test

A Winnipeg school is taking the standard school day and making some tweaks.

Ecole Lacerte in Windsor Park has gone from three breaks during the day to two, and since making the switch student success has spiked.

It’s called a ‘balanced day’ schedule, and students are enjoying it.

“I like that you have more time to do classes and recesses,” said fourth grader Alexie George.

The school day begins at 8:30 a.m. with the first block going until 10:30. At that time, students head outside for a 30 minute recess before heading back to class. Their second, and now last, break of the day comes at 12:30 p.m. when students have their one hour lunch and recess break. The school day wraps up at 3 p.m.

“After lunch was always a harder time to get the kids to concentrate,” said Daniel Preteau, the school’s principal. “Now that we’ve pushed back our lunch break, kids have a shorter block to concentrate in the afternoon.”

Preteau said they’ve already seen the benefits since making the change in September.

He said grades have started improving, teachers have more planning time, and there’s been a decrease in trips to the office for trouble during recess.

“Right now, it’s just a gut feeling, is that kids have time now to manage their conflicts. They’re not losing playtime,” said Preteau.

Under the old schedule there were two 15 minute recesses and a one hour lunch. Now, students have one 30 minute recess in the morning and a one hour lunch in the afternoon.

“Coming back to the classroom, I think they’re more present, and they’re better able to take in whatever’s going on in the classroom,” said Sandra Scott, clinic director at Thrive Counselling.

The idea of a “balanced day” is one that Scott said is beneficial for children’s overall mental health.

“I think it’s also going to have the effect of decreasing the potential of an anxiety disorder setting in really early on because they’re not wound up and really worried, ‘What am I going to miss out on if I don’t get out on that playground right away?’” said Scott.

Preteau said there was one area they were concerned about when implementing the new schedule originally: indoor recesses during poor weather. It turns out, the kids adapted very easily to the new schedule and there were no problems with having to stay inside for the longer periods.

“A lot of worries or questions that we had answered themselves through the rollout of this new school day,” said Preteau.

Ecole Lacerte, which is part of the Franco-Manitoban School Division, isn’t the only school that has implemented the “balanced day” schedule.

There are also some schools in both the Winnipeg School Division and Lord Selkirk School Division also trying out the new format.



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