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School Recess Time Disappearing

I'm a little fired up. Apparently, recess is taking a hike. Since when did our educational system decide that they should get rid of recess?

My son recently advanced to the "upper hall" (4th-6th graders). I guess once that happens, you move from 3, to 2 recesses. I'm realizing I was spoiled and had 3 recesses all growing up, but I think school recess time is important, even if it's just 15 minutes we lost. I decided to post to our Facebook page, and in my opinion, an alarming number of people came back and said their kids were only getting 1 or 2 recesses a day. Seriously? Elementary age kids getting just 1 recess a day? No one wins in that scenario, not the child, not the teacher, and certainly not grades or health.

So I decided to ask an old friend, Lily Eskelsen, what she thought about the whole thing (she also happens to be the Vice President of the National Education Association). I wanted to know if there was any good excuse for it. Here's what she said:

I can quickly tell you that NEA and our 3 million teachers and ed support staff are absolutely alarmed at what we're seeing in terms of schools reducing or eliminating recess – an unstructured time for kids to just be kids and run out and kick a ball and jump rope and run around like little maniacs having a little fun having been sitting in un-airconditioned rooms all day. Recess is a good thing. It's a healthy thing. Kids need unstructured time to get physical.

And I'll tell you what I'm hearing from my NEA teachers – reducing recess is usually to spend more time in test prep. It's bad for kids and it's just morally wrong to eliminate something so vital to healthy kids like physical activity to maximize time to do something so meaningless like drilling for a standardized test. It shows how out of balance some thinking is.

Teachers are fighting no-recess policies, but we absolutely need parent voices in this. We encourage all parents to let the principal know how they feel. Let the elected school board know how they feel. Let the teachers know you support them in bringing back a balance between class work and play that all children need.

You can check out her blog here: Lily's Blackboard

I agree.

I emailed my principal. She didn't respond. I emailed my district. They didn't respond either. I wanted to hear their logic. So I was left to look on the internets . . .

A 2006 report from the National Center for Education Statistics found that somewhere between 83-88 percent of public schools have a daily recess period. However, a study of 11,000 third graders released earlier this year found that 1 in 3 students receives fewer than 15 minutes of daily recess or none at all.

It's obvious that it's not a good idea to cut recess from our children's education. Not even a minute of it. I don't care if they have an art specialist or if they go to P.E. once a week. These kids need to go and run around outside.

And just my luck, I got this awesome infographic in my inbox today from the CDC:

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Needless to say, my principal and district have not heard the last from me. And if you have less than 3 recesses a day for your elementary age child, your principal and district need to be hearing from you. That's the only way things will change.

A little more from the "internets":

School Recess Improves Behavior

Tragic Demise of Recess, Who is Losing?

The Trends in Recess Today

Time Out! Is Recess in Danger

More on TodaysMama:

Posting Pictures of Your Kids on Facebook? Watch This!

Should Students Be Suspended Over Facebook?

Cellphones in School


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