Recess Helps Kids Learn (don’t take it away!)

(This article was first published over at Eco-Child’s Play)

I feel in my bones the pressure on teachers. More and more is asked of teachers these days, and heaps of pressure is placed squarely on their shoulders. My upcoming book, Why Great Teachers Quit, will address this among many other concerns.

But having children skip recess should not be part of the solution. I must admit I am guilty of this sometimes. This new article posted at the New York Times health blog, Well, shares information about a new study proving the importance of recess in the behavior, academic success and the health of children.

“New research suggests that play and down time may be as important to a child’s academic experience as reading, science and math, and that regular recess, fitness or nature time can influence behavior, concentration and even grades.”

and an alarming number of children are not getting recess:

“And many children are not getting that break. In the Pediatrics study, 30 percent were found to have little or no daily recess. Another report, from a children’s advocacy group, found that 40 percent of schools surveyed had cut back at least one daily recess period.

Also, teachers often punish children by taking away recess privileges. That strikes Dr. Barros as illogical. ‘Recess should be part of the curriculum,’ she said. ‘You don’t punish a kid by having them miss math class, so kids shouldn’t be punished by not getting recess.'”

I’m hearing that loud and clear. When I’m tempted to use this time with a student, I’ll remember this article. All kids can benefit physically, mentally and academically (the one we can sometimes forget-) from getting outside and playing.

5 Responses to Recess Helps Kids Learn (don’t take it away!)

  1. Green Bean August 8, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    I couldn’t agree more! How can our kids focus and learn when they aren’t allowed a break. Many schools here (in CA) have reduced PE or cut it entirely. Seriously??? We only have PE three days a week and they talked about cutting it due to budget cuts. I’ll say that our school fought like crazy to keep it and raised an insane amount of money so that our kids can keep moving.

  2. Fake Plastic Fish August 8, 2009 at 9:57 pm #

    I hear you. But I’m also wondering how recess can be set up so that certain children don’t suffer from it. For example, I dreaded recess as a kid. I dreaded it because I was not athletic, and recess invariably involved some form of humiliation like Dodge Ball or even Kick Ball.

    My favorite teacher in 5th Grade rewarded me by allowing me to stay in from recess and draw pictures for her classroom. Probably, she was not doing me a favor, as I could have used the exercise. But her attention made me feel special, whereas recess just made me feel like a loser.

    So what’s the solution for kids that are shy and not athletically inclined?

  3. Melissa @ Raising Them Green August 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    My son is shy and not very athletically inclined but he loves to just go run, run, run, at recess. They have playground equipment and a big field and he’ll usually run and play and many times, other kids join in (so he didn’t have to initiate).

    I think recess is an integral part to the school day and it saddens me to see so many school districts looking to cut it. I understand that it is a budget issue for many districts but I don’t understand why our kids keep ending up on the short end of the budget cut stick.

    Great post!

  4. Lisa Sharp August 15, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    When my brother and I were still in school my brother was in 6th grade and timed how much time was spent doing school work and it was 2 hours.

    Seems there are things that need cut and it’s not recess.

    For Oklahoma schools we are hitting very hard times so not sure what will happen.

  5. Anonymous November 30, 2009 at 6:51 pm #

    To Green bean-
    You should not be complaining if your child only gets 3 periods to run around in. Here (chicago) only have one thirty minute gym class but, you don’t hear me complaining because I get out and play when I am at home. That is your job as a parent to get your chid to read, eat, sleep and play. I know this because I have replaced my parents to take care of my grandmother and brother as they are both working to try and help us in this horrible economy (I know I have spelt that wrong so please excuse trhe minor errors for I am merely 12). Please, ( I did not intend on coming across rude or mean) think before you complain. Recess is a nesesity in life and yet schools cut them from our days. Why? Money. Next time when your school says they caare about your child and their well-being, think about why they cut recess when it gives your child a boost and makes them smatrer overall.

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