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Lunch Break – A Critical Time for Social and Emotional Learning

SIS Zürich-Wollishofen Lebendige Schulgemeinschaft

Lunch break is an often overlooked but essential part of the day for students at SIS Zürich-Wollishofen.

Not only does it offer them a break to refuel and recharge after a morning of learning, it also provides an important opportunity for social and emotional development that will positively benefit their academic performance and well-being.


As lunch begins, students enter the cafeteria and are greeted and served by the German-speaking staff from the Zürcher Frauenverein (ZFV). Each day, ZFV caters a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices. With every meal, students are offered salad, vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein. This midday meal is critical for executive functioning, working memory, and everything that makes a student attentive.


As students take their seats, they are welcomed and assisted by a team of English- and German-speaking supervisors and teachers. At the lunch table, students learn to speak as well as to listen. Here they develop qualities such as empathy and understanding towards others.


After enjoying lunch, students are dismissed to play outside, rain or shine. Gaobo, a student from Year 3, lists many of the on-campus activities that students enjoy:

“They play tag, hide and seek, and football, basketball, yoga and gymnastics, and they also play ping-pong a lot and four square.”


When the weather permits, children are also keen to play badminton, to practice archery, and to match wits with another during a game of giant outdoor chess.


In addition to the activities offered on-campus, students also visit one of two off-campus parks at least once per week, both within a brief walking distance of the school. The Muraltengut Rosengarten, with its fountains, statues, and garden of roses, offers students a large, open space with a hill perfect for running, rolling, and games of tag. The Landiwiese at Lake Zürich has plenty of trees for climbing, a new playground, and an open field suited for games of football.


Not only do these various activities provide a chance for students to develop physically, they also offer students a great opportunity to play and interact with students outside of their class, a key component for their continuing social and emotional development.


Lunch break is much more than just a break from the classroom and plays a critical part in a child’s development and well-being.


Why is this time so important for the students? Adela, a student from Year 3, sums it up perfectly:

“Because the kids need a break, you know!”



Luke Stevenson, Head of Supervision