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Optimal class length for a second grader's attention span
Many parents have been raising concerns about the sudden lack of morning snack this year and kids coming home with half eaten lunches like in previous years. The emails have been flying. I talked to my son about it. He says he's not allowed to grab a snack out of his lunch at morning recess, then by the time it's lunchtime he's so far past hungry that he's not hungry anymore, and all he wants to do is socialize and get to after-lunch recess. I have done some research and concluded the ultimate problem is that they go out to recess after lunch not before. Many schools are switching due to overwhelming evidence that kids eat more and learn better when they play first.
The schedule currently is as follows:
9:10 school starts
10:30-10:40 morning recess
11:50-12:10 lunch followed by recess
I once heard adults have an optimal attention span of about 40min. Supposedly this is why college classes are 45 - 50 min long. It seems unreasonable to me, therefore, to make 7-8 year old kids sit in class for 80 min, 10 min break, then another 70 min, on no food. My son eats breakfast at 7:30 in the morning because his bus comes at 8:00. If he were to eat every 3 hours like he does at home, this would mean a morning snack around 10:30 and lunch around 1:30. (Yep, I give him an afternoon snack when he gets home at 4:00 then we eat dinner around 7:00.) Anyway, his school principal says she is constrained by the fact that her cook needs to be done serving no later than 12:20.
I think reversing recess / lunch times is the ideal solution to solve the blood sugar issues, but it begs the question about how long children can sit in a classroom. So, how long can children that age sit and pay attention?