Rescuing Recess - FamilyEducation

Rescuing Recess

by Carleton Kendrick Ed.M., LCSW

What would your first-grader's day be like without a trip to the jungle gym? Learn why our family therapist hopes we never find out.

Who are these grinches who want to eliminate school recess? Would you want to control every minute of a child's school day? Does that sound healthy to you?

Playground smarts
Recess was a big part of my education. I learned how to play games, make friends, and settle disputes without the supervision of adults. My body became stronger with each ball I kicked and every race I ran. I stayed in touch with nature as my senses took in the changing seasons of New England.

Children are born to play and to socialize. Recess encourages these natural, healthy pursuits. Physical education classes are infrequent and in some schools non-existent. Our kids have grown less fit and more sedentary.

Most classrooms are run in an anti-social manner. We ask our children to sit next to each other but not talk to each other for six hours. Teachers talk: Kids listen and speak when asked. We punish them if they don't. Everyone can talk at recess. Heck, you can even sing, dance, and tell a joke.

Recess brings readiness
The anti-recess people maintain that sending our kids to the playgrounds deprives them of precious academic opportunities. Teachers speak of their difficulties in settling kids down and "keeping them on task" after recess.

I taught fourth grade. Kids were different after recess. They were more exhilarated, more confident, and more imaginative. I welcomed their flush-faced return by engaging them in animated class discussions. Why would I want to quiet them down when they were so alive?

Gimme a break! Adults in the workplace take coffee breaks, smoking breaks, and lunch breaks in addition to the many water-cooler discussions shared with colleagues. Evidently we need to interrupt our workday with food, relaxation, and socialization. It helps us perform better.

So why would we begrudge our kids one or two daily recess breaks totaling a maximum of thirty minutes? Might those breaks in their workday help them perform better too?

Recess renews and educates children. It gives them opportunities to develop their social and interpersonal skills while liberating their spirits. Don't let the grinches padlock the playground in the name of education.

Read Carleton Kendrick's bio.

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