Balanced School Day

Manitou Elementary will now be participating in the "Balanced School Day".

New "Balanced School Day" at MES
 Better Nutrition and More Time for Activity
   Students and staff across the division will be heading back to school next week, and those at Manitou Elementary will be looking forward to a new timetable being implemented this year. 
   The "Balanced School Day" schedule breaks the instructional time into three 100-minute blocks, with two nutrition and activity breaks separating the blocks. Each nutrition/activity break consists of an "eating" segment followed by an outdoor activity time. 
   The minutes of break and instruction have not changed. Two shorter recesses have been combined, and three teaching blocks are divided evenly throughout the day. This schedule creates equally balanced teaching/learning divisions to the school day.
   This approach has been very well received in other schools throughout Canada, including Carman Element-ary trying it last year for the first time, and are now beginning their second year.
 The new schedule will look like this:

 9:00 - 9:30 Period 1
 9:30 - 10:05 Period 2
 10:05 - 10:40 Period 3
   Morning Break
 10:40 - 10:50 Nutrition Time (10 min.)
 10:50 - 11:10 Outdoor Activity Time (20 min.)
 11:10 - 11:40 Period 4
 11:40 - 12:15 Period 5
 12:15 - 12:50 Period 6
   Afternoon Break
 12:50 - 1:15 Nutrition Break (25 min.)
 1:15 - 1:45 Outdoor Activity & Intramural Time (30 min.)
 1:45 - 2:15 Period 7
 2:15 - 2:50 Period 8
 2:50 - 3:25 Period 9
 3:30 Dismissal 

This new schedule won't affect NMC, as the school day still starts at 9 and ends at 3:30.
   According to Debbie Morrow, principal at Manitou Elementary School, they have been working towards this for the past 3 - 4 years. They began researching the idea in 2007 when staff approached her, indicating "this was a worthy timetable as it provided students with an opportunity to have time for nutritious meals spread out twice a day and uninterrupted instruction." 
   Deb says, "After speaking with Mr. Don Hurton (superintendent of Prairie Spirit School Division) in 2008 about this idea, he was able to set up a meeting with Stony Mountain School who was currently implementing the Balanced School Day."
   In January 2009, representatives from Manitou Elementary School and Prairie Spirit School Division attended a well organized informational meeting that was facilitated by the principal of Stony Mountain School.
   They returned very positive, and presented their findings to the rest of the staff. "At this time the staff indicated that the Balanced School Day philosophy was something that we should look at and move toward," said the MES principal. So in March of that year, "I presented this to the Parent Ad-visory Council and they all agreed that this would be better for the students."
   The next task was to see that, with their current staffing, all contractual agreements were upheld. 
   Last January, a draft timetable was created and presented to the staff in which a yes vote indicated to proceed with the timetable. The Parent Advisory Council also voted unanimously to support the new time table and agreed to support the school in getting the information out to the parents.
   It was then, that the PSSD board approved Manitou Elementary and Crystal City Early Years to pilot the Bal-anced School Day schedule for the 2010-2011 school year. 
   Morrow explained that, "the main reason they went to the balanced school day, was to benefit the kids - particularly the little ones." Children learn better when they eat well; there will be more time to sit down and eat, vs. eating on the run; and during the winter months when extra clothing is required, students will have time to put on their gear and still get outside for an extended play.
   MES has always promoted healthy nutrition, so this new time-table should compliment their already positive healthy eating habits. Parents just need to be reminded when packing their lunches, to divide a balanced selection of healthy foods into two fulfilling portions.

Benefits to a Balanced School Day

Balanced Nutrition - Children need frequent food breaks each day. This schedule provides two opportunities during the school day when students sit down to eat together, rather than eating on the run at recess. Students who are nutritionally satisfied can concentrate better and learn more effectively.
 Physical Activity - At a time when physical inactivity and obesity are of increasing concern in school-age children, this schedule provides two opportunities every day to take part in 20-35 minutes of uninterrupted play. Currently, much of the 15-minute recess is taken up with washroom breaks, eating snacks, and dressing, particularly during the winter months. Children often have little or no time to play. The quality exercise time energizes students, helps them to concentrate better on schoolwork, and promotes a healthy lifestyle. The increased time also opens up opportunities for the gym to be used twice a day for extracurricular activities.

 More Time for Learning

To maximize learning for children the new schedule provides a significant block of intensive teaching/learning time without interruption. Under the old schedule, each of the three breaks during the school day results in at least 10 minutes of dressing/undressing. With two scheduled breaks, students will spend less time entering/exiting the classroom.
 Programming - The three large blocks of time provide teachers with more flexibility when planning and provide more opportunities to continue a lessons if required. School schedules have significant blocks of uninterrupted time for literacy programming (reading, writing, oral and visual communication) during each school day. This provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to fine-tune the literacy initiative that they have been developing for a number of years.