School detention activities

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Detention is often used in place of suspension for students who misbehave repeatedly in class. While suspension involves removing the student from school for a selected number of days, detention takes place for a period of hours after school is out.

Rather than having students sit in chairs and mindlessly gaze into the distance, have them engage in useful activities that will encourage them to improve their attitudes.


Physical activity is known to increase flexibility, strength and cardiovascular health while it releases endorphins, according to the American Dance Therapy Association (ADTA). Although it is likely a student who lands in detention will resist participating in a dance lesson, the teacher or instructor may encourage him by requiring him to return to detention every day until he attempts to learn a few steps. The ADTA believes that dance marries mind and body, promoting communication and positive feelings about oneself and those who surround him. If within the budget, the school may hire a dance teacher to work with students in detention, turning their "punishment" into a learning opportunity. It is possible that students who seek attention by acting out are merely looking for an outlet through which they can express themselves.

Physical Education

Most of the time spent in class is spent sitting. Students with short attention spans or overactive imaginations may act out simply because they have a hard time sitting down for so long. Punishing a student by forcing them to sit down even longer will most likely accentuate the problem. Furthermore, according to WebMD, "one out of every five children in the U.S. is overweight or obese, and this number is continuing to grow." To make detention physical, a teacher may choose any sport or activity. For schools with limited equipment, take students out onto a field or other open space and run relays. Have a drill routine consisting of push ups, jumping jacks and high-knees, and lead students through timed intervals. Make it team-oriented and competitive to improve communication.


Where there is a class of trouble makers, there is bound to be a handful of students who consistently work hard and strive for improvement. Rather than labelling one type of student good and the other bad, partner them up so they might learn from each other. Create an extra credit research project that will improve both the grade of the student in detention and the grade of the student tutoring him. Make it about something interesting to encourage both students to invest their time; let them decide for themselves, given the idea is within reason. Have the students collect one full page of information organised into a short essay. Make sure both students participate equally in the research and writing. Not only will this occupy their time during detention, it will introduce troublesome students to new potential friends with different work ethics.