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How Much Time Do Kids Socialize in School?

by Erica Loop, studioD

If your parent-teacher conference reveals that your little learner is also a little chatterer during class-time, you aren't alone. While it's not acceptable in the majority of educational environments, talking to friends is beneficial when done during school-sanctioned social times such as recess. Although these social situations comprise a small percentage of the time spent in working in the classroom, they are typically part of daily school activities.

Overall Time in School

To understand how the time kids spend socializing stacks up against instructional time, consider first the overall time spent in school. Each state has specific requirements for the number of days or learning hours that students must put in to move on to the next grade. Failure to do so will typically result in the child being held back or having to attend summer school classes to make up hours. On average, U.S. students spend between 175 and 180 days in school annually, according to the Center for Public Education. This equates to between 900 and 1,000 hours of instructional time each school year.

Instructional Times

The main focus of your child's school day is instructional time. This means that your child is actively involved in the learning process during academic periods such as math, science or English as well as during music, art, physical education or -- in the middle and high school years -- family and consumer sciences, wood shop or metal working. Typically most schools, and teachers frown upon any socialization during instructional times. This isn't to say that teachers expect or require students to listen silently. There are often educationally advantageous reasons for students to speak with one another -- such as working on a group report or conducting an experiment in a lab group during chemistry. Though this kind of group work involves communicating with other students in an academic sense, it still gives kids a sense of connecting with one another.

Periods for Socialization

The group setting of school provides many opportunities for kids to socialize. For younger kids, recess affords talk and play time for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes each school day. Likewise, the lunch period provides opportunities for kids to socialize, usually about 20 minutes per school day. If your child primarily socializes with his friends before school starts, the exact amount of time depends on when you drop him off and when the first bell rings. For example, if you drop him off at 7:45 a.m. and homeroom starts at 8 a.m., he has roughly 15 minutes each day of before-school socialization. Multiply that by the number of days in the school year and you get an annual stat to add to the time given for lunch and/or recess. These times will vary according to school.

Social Media

Kids don't always use face-to-face communication in order to socialize during school times. With the growing use of computers, cell phones and other technological devices, contemporary kids spend time socializing with friends online or through text-type talking. According to Nielsen's media stats, kids 13 and older send roughly 2,000 texts -- that's per child -- each month. Additionally, the Kaiser Family Foundation states that children spend roughly 22 minutes each day social networking and that nearly three-quarters of all high schoolers have an online social profile. The amount of time that a child spends on these technological types of social activities during the school day depends on if and when the teachers and administrators allow such communications. Schools may restrict social media use to before or after school times, and may ban cell phones from in-school hours.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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