Period (school)

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A school period is a block of time allocated for lessons, classes in schools.[1] They typically last between 30 and 60 minutes, with around 3-10 periods per school day. However, especially in higher education, there can be many more. Educators determine the number and length of these periods, and may even regulate how each period will be used. One common example of this practice is to designate at least one compulsory period a day for physical education.[2]

Free period[edit]

One special example of a high school period is the free period. These typically involve having 15 minutes of mostly unsupervised activities. A free period (also called "free" "spare" "unstructured" or "leisure" period) is generally found in most high schools and colleges. During a free period, a student can either:

  • Walk around the [campus] freely until the next period. Some high schools permit students to leave the campus and go home, visit shops or areas nearby that are outside the school grounds.
  • Stay in a designated study room or classroom and either talk or work on homework.
  • Use it as an opportunity to meet up with teachers and ask about missed work or another question.
  • Study for any upcoming tests/exams.
  • In some schools, lunch is also consumed during a student's free period.

Some schools have an extended lunch period and that could be used as a free period as well. Lunch periods in high school could be up to 60 minutes long.

A free period in a college is a time period that a student is not enrolled in a class. During the free period, students are completely free of adult supervision and could do whatever they want that complies to the campus rules and the law.

Study period[edit]

Another special example of a middle school and high school period is the study period. In school or college, a study period is a period in a student's timetable where a student may undertake self-directed learning activities, rather than having lessons being taught by a teacher.

While study periods are normally intended for study activities, such as set exercises, problem solving, or homework, students often consider these periods of the school day as free periods and may use the time to socialize rather than study. For this reason, study periods may often be supervised by a teacher being present in the study room. In some instances, the teacher may even tutor the students, and the study period may become a tutorial, although this is not normally the case. Study periods often occur because of scheduling conflicts in the school timetable, when there is a mismatch between available students, teachers, subjects and classrooms.

Study periods are generally monitored by teachers or teacher's aides, who often encourage students to use this time to complete homework, catch up on missing assignments, or study for tests or quizzes. Sometimes, students also use periods to converse, make phone calls, text message, play video games, or otherwise socialize or pursue non-academic topics, though this is sometimes discouraged or forbidden. Periods in which such things are allowed are occasionally differentiated from study periods by the name "free period". Some students even eat lunch during a study period due to long lines and short lunch periods at their schools.

Study periods are often used by students to visit with teachers, who have a "prep period", in order to discuss work or assignments. A study period can be a period to utilize school resources or otherwise request teacher assistance in any subject not understood by the student.

Many academics feel that study period is an inefficient allocation of time which is often underutilized, but others say it is a positive addition to a regular schedule because it creates a good environment for completing homework or large projects.


  1. ^ "Definition of Class Period by The Free Dictionary". Farlex. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  2. ^ "The Times of India: Gill wants a compulsory sports period in schools". The Times Of India. April 25, 2010. Retrieved July 22, 2011.