Do kids really need recess? Would that time be better spent studying? Life as MOM contributor JessieLeigh shares her thoughts on why recess IS worth fighting for.
Several years ago, a troubling trend gained momentum in some parts of the nation: getting rid of recess. Recess, proponents of the new plan argued, took up valuable instructional time and was part of what kept our country from excelling when compared to other nations. Faced with the inarguable evidence that our nation was “behind”, some districts decided this made sense– getting rid of recess would free up more time to prepare children for testing. Right?
Well, I’m happy to report that most schools have since determined that this was not, in fact, a great plan and it did not actually support rising test scores at all. Recess has been reinstated in many places and I’m seeing more and more parents and administrators speak up about the importance of this time in the school day.
I am firmly in the camp that believes recess is essential for kids. If I found myself in a district that did not include recess as part of the daily schedule? It’s one of the things I’d be willing to fight for. Here’s why:
Recess allows for movement and fresh air.
Children in the public school are asked to sit inside for an awful long time each day. Sure, there are some fantastic teachers who encourage stretching and movement throughout the hours, but it’s still not the same as running free outdoors. Being able to climb, run, spin, and jump freely is important for children. In some cases, this type of movement is actually essential to their being able to focus and attend for longer stretches of time.
Fresh air is good for all of us. It helps us be both more energized and relaxed at the same time– that’s pretty amazing! Getting outside also allows children to break free of breathing the same enclosed air over and over. Sunshine and fresh breezes are good for what ails you.
Recess teaches life skills.
You know what inevitably happens at recess? Squabbles. Hurt feelings. Power struggles. Drama.
Now, I realize that does not sound like a list of pro-recess arguments. But, here’s the thing– these are all part of life. It’s incredibly important for children to learn how to navigate a world full of disappointments and misunderstandings.
Children given the freedom to interact and explore at recess are also given the opportunity to learn how to both stand up for themselves and pick their battles.
This isn’t to say that adult involvement is never necessary, but the playground is a great setting for all sorts of life lessons. Not only do students learn how to manage their own difficult exchanges, but they also develop strategies for helping others. Compassion and integrity are nurtured when a child stands up for another or isn’t afraid to speak up when something is wrong.
Recess builds strong minds.
Have you ever watched children navigate a series of monkey bars, ladders, and slides? It’s really fascinating. Just like any skill or subject, it’s easier for some than others. What sounds so very simple actually involves a whole lot.
Climbing and scaling involve coordination, motor planning, problem solving, and foresight. Guess what? Those are techniques that translate over into dozens of other tasks.
Children learn to plot, plan, and control impulses in order to successfully complete a larger challenge. They gain a firmer grasp of cause and effect as they try to cut corners and realize it didn’t pan out how they’d hoped.
On the flip-side, they discover valuable time-saving short-cuts by fully analyzing the project before them and breaking it down into smaller steps. Students who can problem solve well are frequently active and successful participants in the classroom.
Recess isn’t just about having a break in the day. Even if it were, it would have value, but there’s so much more that happens during that time. Children who are given the opportunity to run, play, explore, and interact at recess are also given the opportunity to grow and excel in the classroom. As far as I’m concerned, that is time well-spent.
Other Public School Posts:
– A mother of three, including a 24 week preemie, JessieLeigh is a determined advocate for even the tiniest of babies. She can be found celebrating life’s (sometimes unexpected) miracles and blessings at Parenting Miracles.
You can read all of Jessie Leigh’s posts for Life as MOM here.