Academic Break Time helps students at Oxford Middle School

By Shelby Stewart-Soldan
Staff Writer
OXFORD TWP. – During the regular school board meeting on Jan. 23, Oxford Middle School principal Brad Bigelow gave an update on the Academic Break Time program they implemented for the 2023-2024 school year.
“We know that students come to us from the elementary level and they have a recess block every single day tied to lunch,” said Bigelow. “We started looking at research, and the research shows the importance of having a formal break during the course of the day. There’s nothing but positive results from that research.”
ABT is a 36-minute block each day, tied to lunch time, for the students to socialize with peers, find enriching activities and take a break from the school day.
“Every grade has their own 36-minute block each day. It’s a combination of lunch and depending on the time of year, we’ll alter the plans for our kids each day at lunch,” he said. “So right now for example, with the temperatures being what they are, we have students that go to the gym every single day. We have the media center, that’s an option for our kids. They’re able to go, they do Legos, they read, they do puzzles, they color. Some of our students stay in the cafeteria and socialize with their peers.”
In warmer weather, students are able to spend some time outside as well.
“In the gall, we have a nature pathway, we were able to offer that for kids,” said Bigelow. “And then of course we open up the track, the kids are able to go outside and use the field. They play catch, they shoot hoops, it’s been a great addition to our daily schedule at the middle school.”
After having this program for the first half of the year, the staff at the middle school compiled preliminary data of the effect on students.
“This is still early, and it’s not a direct correlation yet, but we wanted to run some numbers and see where we’re at and see if academic break time has any correlation with some behaviors that we were seeing in the past in the building,” he said. “Up to this point, we have seen a 43% reduction in office referrals. Again, it might not just be specific to ABT, but it is something to think about as we move forward.”
In addition, 88% of students stated they could find an engaging activity each day during ABT, and 68% of students said that they felt having ABT helped increase their focus and organization in the classroom.

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