Students at McGrath Elementary receive a 20 minute recess daily. For most students, this is a time for them to go outside and play. However, there may be times when a student will be required to use their recess to complete unfinished work or to practice the correct way to engage in certain behaviors.

This is an opportunity for students to learn a valuable real-world lesson while the stakes are still relatively minimal: hard work results in rewards, lack of work results in lost privileges. If adults skip work, they don’t get paid. If they are late paying their taxes, there is a fine. If they don’t get their work done in the provided time, they may have to work overtime to finish. If they drive unsafely, they have to practice during a safe driving course.

Students need to learn this lesson of faithfulness and responsibility as well. If fourth and fifth graders are still struggling with this issue, they only have a short time to improve before the strict consequences of higher school levels arrive. Failure to complete work at the middle and high school level has real consequences involving detentions, in-school suspensions, failing classes, mandatory summer school, taking credit recovery classes or not graduating on time.

To help students form habits of responsibility, I may require students to use their recess for these purposes:

  • To finish a test, quiz or assignment not finished in class.
  • To finish a science experiment not finished in class.
  • To practice a routine or procedure the student has been doing incorrectly.
  • To finish reading their Literature Circles book or writing responses.
  • To finish cursive assignments not finished during the week.
  • To finish a piece of writing that wasn’t finished during the three-week work time of a writing piece.

Doesn’t my student need a break?

Breaks are important. We have about 15 minutes worth of breaks during the school day, 20 minutes of lunch, as well as 55 minutes of music, gym, or technology. These are all breaks. But if a student has been slacking in class, haven’t they already taken their break? They took their break at school or home when they didn’t finish their work. They were talking, sitting, or playing while the other students were working on cursive, writing, or working hard on other tasks. That’s their break. If they would like a break during school, they have a choice to complete their work on time.

Isn’t recess exercise?

It can be, for 20 minutes. But a better source of exercise is the multiple hours of waking time each student has after school daily, in addition to the weekends. If a student doesn’t have their work finished, they must have been using their daily work time for playing, maybe even exercising. Since they clearly didn’t take the home time needed to finish their work, they can use their school recess time. In the future, students are always welcome to choose to finish their work on time at home or school, freeing them up to exercise at recess.

How long will my student have to stay in for recess?

When a student finishes their responsibilities, they can always choose to go to recess. If a student hasn’t taken the time to finish their tasks, they can use their recess time to finish. Students can catch up on missing work and assignments at home if they would like to free up their recess time.

Can my student just go to recess regardless of what they do in school?

Probably not. Can adults get paid regardless of what they do at work? Can students win an art contest no matter how they paint or draw? Actions matter and they have consequences. Students must learn this. If students don’t have time to finish their work, learn to follow procedures, or complete a writing piece, they will clearly need more time to finish. That extra time will come from their recess. They are welcome to return to recess when they finish the work that all the other students have already done.

More information

Please go to the Homework Policy for more information about missing assignments. In the words of Lee Cantor, you cannot allow your student to be indifferent toward homework. This habit of indifference will harden as years go by, and your student will struggle to solve their own problems without help from parents or others. A person who has allowed these habits to develop is at risk to become a blamer, blaming others and waiting for everyone else to solve their problems, always needing to be rescued by others.

This page last updated November 3, 2017 @ 7:22 am.