Photos courtesy of the North Bellmore School District
With a well-deserved break in the middle of the day, students at Newbridge Road Elementary School in the North Bellmore School District are striving to make the most out of that time. After a few hours of hard work in the morning, they head off to lunch and recess, before learning literacy, math and more resumes in the afternoon.
But, as Principal Amanda Licci points out, their education doesn’t stop during that lunchtime break. It’s where children develop important social skills, learn how to be good citizens of their school and understand how to be responsible for their own actions.
With that in mind, Ms. Licci launched a new initiative this year to give students a greater voice in the school while helping them to have the best lunch and recess times possible. At the beginning of the school year, she met with each grade level, in which students outlined expectations for themselves during their midday break. Empowered to set their own rules, students took the responsibility seriously.
Posters outlining these expectations are displayed prominently in the cafeteria and are signed by every student. Students in the younger grades set more specific rules, such as using inside voices during lunch, cleaning up after themselves and including others during games at recess. The fifth and sixth grade promises reflect their standing as role models in the school, focusing on the virtues of acceptance, fairness, honesty and respect. They vow to use good manners and make good choices.
Newbridge Road’s lunch recess aides were also involved in the process so they can proactively and positively communicate with students and use consistent language. Each aide has laminated copies of the signed promises from each grade.
“It’s much more meaningful and impactful if it comes from the children,” Ms. Licci said. “Students are very receptive to this, and these are documents that hopefully lead to a positive lunch and recess all year.”
Ultimately, Ms. Licci said, the goal is to maximize the time that students can eat their lunch and play with friends. She noted the correlation that exists between good behavior and personal enjoyment.