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Research Finds That Recess Can Boost Children’s Development Significantly

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Research Finds That Recess Can Boost Children’s Development Significantly

Back in my day (when I was walking uphill both ways) we had three recesses every day. I was a little bit surprised when my daughter started school and I found out that was no longer the case.

During the days that they have gym class, the children only get two recesses. Also, some of the papers I read mentioned that sometimes a punishment can result in missing a recess. Or, if work needs to be finished, that could require the student to also miss recess. I’m a go-with-the-flow type of parent, but I will admit that this surprised me.

Indisputable Facts About Recess

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Recess plays a vital role in child development, benefitting children emotionally, socially, physically, and academically. The AAP believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”

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It’s easy to say things like this, but there have actually been studies conducted that proved the importance of recess. It is not something to be “earned,” but is important in child development and behaviour in its own right.

Why Is Recess Still Being Taken Away?

Recess is a pretty easy card to play, I would imagine. Few children don’t want to go out and get some energy out after learning for a few hours. That punishment is a one-size-fits-all way to get attention from everyone.

The teachers really have their backs against the wall. Coming up with creative and relevant punishments for 30 different students that are showing 30 different behavioral problems… I could see that taking me weeks to figure out meaningful ways to redirect the behavior appropriately for each student. I don’t think teachers have that kind of time and they don’t have all the resources we would want them to have. That is a huge bummer. I want to be clear that I don’t think this is a teacher problem, this is a system problem.

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What Is The Playtime Trend In Classrooms?

It appears that the time children have for playing in class, including recesses, continues to decrease as the years go by.

According to an article from the Huffington Post by Laura Hanby Hudgeons, “Current trends in education have forced many schools to severely limit or in some cases eliminate recess.”

But… we already read that it was proven that recess is beneficial — how can this happen?

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Solutions

There are no easy solutions to this one, unfortunately. Parent involvement can be a key factor in changing behavior. The socialization at school is important to development, but are the flood of TV and electronics necessary? Maybe communicating with the parents could lead to some repercussions dealt with at home instead of in school. This could lead to correcting behaviors while reducing the tax on the teachers.

Administrators at the school also have their place in helping to find a way to discipline without removing recess. They need to be backing up the teachers in finding other ways to handle this.

I don’t pretend to know all the right answers on this, but I know from experience that removing the chance for my kids to work out some of their energy by running or playing out in fresh air causes a rough day for us at home. I can’t imagine the impact on a class.

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Please go on to read Laura Hanby Hudgeons piece on recess here. She has captured the importance of the subject in a way that only a teacher could. As she points out, this trend of less and less play will take years to undo.

Featured photo credit: Arlington County Flickr via flickr.com

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