Kids Need Recess

Photo Credit: SmartSign (CC-By-2.0)

Most of my elementary school memories are of recess, time I was able to spend with my friends and take a break from the school day. I remember playing on equipment that has largely disappeared from school playgrounds. I remember a favorite teacher coming out and playing catch with the boys.

I also remember running for my life when a girl named Christie tried kissing me in third grade when I was volunteered to be “the groom” for a make-believe wedding at the merry-go-round.

I guess not every memory is a pleasant one.

The thing I remember most is getting a significant break from the montony of the school day which was very much needed.

With the standards and accountability movement in education, along with its hyper-focus on testing, recess has become a luxury instead of a necessity for elementary school students.

It’s ridiculous. Even adults need a break during their workday, and kids are not adults. They need even more time. Now some states have passed laws stating students must have at least 20 minutes of recess.

I call that a start, but in actuality it should be more.

Time in a feature addressing the “recess debate” cites some of the evidence in support of recess:

A 2009 study found that 8- and 9-year-old children who had at least one daily recess period of more than 15 minutes had better classroom behavior. The study also found that black students and students from low-income families were more likely to be given no recess or minimal recess. That report reinforced the results of a 1998 study, which found that when 43 fourth-grade students were given recess, they worked more or fidgeted less than when they were not given recess.

When recess is eliminated or reduced, it is often because a school is allocating more time to subjects covered on standardized tests, aiming to improve student achievement. But a 2010 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found positive associations between recess and academic performance. “There is substantial evidence that physical activity can help improve academic achievement, including grades and standardized test scores,” the report said.

Another study, from 2016, found that young boys who spent more time sitting and less time playing didn’t progress as quickly in reading and math.

Studies also show that recess can improve student nutrition when held before lunchtime. A 2014 study published in Preventive Medicine found that holding recess before lunch increased students’ fruit and vegetable consumption by 54%.

This is simply common sense, something that it seems a lot of educrats have lacked as they push their reforms not considering the unintended consequences.

3 thoughts on “Kids Need Recess

  1. Totally true! I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to remove or limit recess… They’re dead wrong.

  2. Hooray for Recess!
    One of my favorite (very old) Teachers used to quote, “The mind can only absorb, what the posterior can endure.”
    Such wisdom is entirely lacking in the Educrats of today.
    In the 1950’s we were blessed with playtime before and after school, 15-20 minute recesses rnorning and afternoon, as well as an hour for lunch. We got lots of exercise and socialization, learned well and had great test scores.

  3. Get rid of traditional playgrounds too and replace them with natural playscapes. They’re usually cheaper. Playgrounds were invented in the 1800s by Marxists looking to teach children about how society would run (i.e. you wait in line for your turn). I’m not making this up, look it up. I grew up rural and I loved having places to explore in the forest and large areas to play together and that’s how children used to play, before they had to spend their full time looking to not be pushed off of equipment and break their neck. We had a very small creek (just two feet wide and toe-deep) and a forest right next to our playground with no fence dividing at my elementary school but we were never allowed to go there–there was a fence several meters behind the forest so it’s not like we’d be able to run away, but we might go out of sight understandably, but how is that more dangerous than the jungle gym? There were several instances of children going into shock falling off the monkey bars growing up. I took my child to the park the other day and the equipment just zaps out the fun and creativity and can easily be commandeered by a demanding group of children, whereas you can’t really be kicked out of a field or a playscape. I’m constantly being asked by him to help him climb this or that or hold onto him. Playgrounds could be an allegory of the public schools. We have this standard equipment we think children are supposed to have, and in the meanwhile are robbing them of something more beautiful. Playscapes are hard to come by, just like a quality education is, and no one knows why because they’d solve so many problems.

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