Saturday, January 4, 2014

Removing Recess: Test Scores Trump Play!

Let me begin by being  completely honest. I hate recess. I hate being out in the cold. I hate being out when it's hot.  I am not fortunate enough to work in a school where teachers have aides that monitor recess. I , and my teammates take the kids out for 15 minutes a day, unless of course it's too hot or too cold.
I read an article, "Losing Recess", written by a parent who noticed changes in her child.  She attributed these changes to the fact that her kindergartner was not going out for recess.  The teacher told her that they had too much work to do. Kindergartners? 
As much as I despise recess, I have to agree with the points she made in her article. We have to give our kids a break. At some point, they have to be able to go outside,  run around,and breathe.  In the last few years, my former principal had toyed with the idea of getting rid of recess entirely, but we teachers did protest too much! That idea was canned, instead it was shortened by 10 minutes. 
Another point made in the article was that recess isn't  just recess. There's more to it than, "Go outside and play." It teaches socialization skills, leadership skills, gives the new kids a chance to make friends,  gives our video-saturated kids a chance to run around, and the part I enjoy, it gives me a chance to participate in  informal conversations with my students.
My colleague would miss being the quarterback for our 5th graders, and I would miss showing my kids that I can still jump double dutch, even if I do pant heavily afterwards. And if we're to follow the First Lady's initiative, how do we take away the one part of the day where some of our kids actually get off their tush?
I know state " test score anxiety"  (TSA) has pushed us into situations that are completely unfavorable for our students. But recess? Come on,  I think we should leave it alone, and/or bring it back, even if I do have to go outside. :)
"The Crucial Role of Recess in School" American Academy of Pediatrics


  1. That really would be the icing on the cake. The fact that it's even a consideration alarms me. One of these days we will see the nasty, long-term results of "TSA" on our kids, at which point there will be a host of teachers waiting with a hearty "I told you so..."

  2. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. So many people don't understand all that goes on at recess. Leadership skills are developed as well as the ability to negotiate, use critical thinking skills, think on one's feet. All of these things are important life skills. If all we ever do is keep kids inside at school we are doing them a disservice.

  3. I discovered that my 5th graders settled down and worked better when they had recess. (I now teach middle school). They had a 30-minutes P.E. class every day, but the extra break - even if it was only 15 minutes, made a huge difference.

  4. I would be interested in hearing how a proposal to march elementary students around the building 5 minutes of every hour, might be received by public school teachers... So at the 55 minute mark the bell rings and the teachers march their students down the hall and back in time for the 00 minute mark. Obviously the whole school would have to do it at once.

    It was mentioned in an anti-childhood diabetes forum as a way of increasing the heartbeat rate and making children less docile by making exercise habitual, but it might have even greater consequences in absorption of knowledge.

    Any comment?

  5. I taught in CA where teachers had recess duty. Now I live in WA, and they have aides who cover recess. 15 minutes of freedom makes a big difference for kids and teachers alike. It really saddens me when recess gets taken away.