Recess Out: Kids Without A Break

By Indykids Staff

EVERYONE likes recess. It is the special part of the day devoted to sports, games, or any other kind of fun. But is it on its way out?

Children in the United States receive less recess time than did their parents, and in the future are facing an even smaller amount. Children in the United States also receive less recess time than other children around the world. Some British schools have three daily recess periods, 15 minutes in both the morning and afternoon, and 80-90 minutes at lunch. Japanese schools give 10-20 minutes between lessons or 5-minute breaks between lessons with a long play period after lunch.

Recess isn’t just a break from math problems and history lessons. Children who receive recess benefit from outdoor play, exercise, freedom to do as they please, and the chance to spend time with their friends. Adults get breaks when they work at jobs, so shouldn’t children when they work at school?

Because of the U.S. government’s decision to toughen the country’s coursework (called the No Child Left Behind Act), almost half of U.S. schools have either reduced or banned recess. A number of U.S. school districts have opted for a no-recess policy altogether. However, many experts say that recess has value and cannot be abandoned without loss to the school, and most importantly, the children.

One teacher says, “As a parent I know that my child was happier and less cranky when she had a positive playground experience during the day. As a teacher, I know there are times when it’s the playground experiences which make my kids want to try harder in the classroom. They need recess.”

Berkeley Hall School in Los Angeles, California, brought back recess after it was eliminated in 1998 for 1st and 2nd graders. They replaced it with Physical Education (P.E., or gym class). The children rebelled. Second grade teacher Vicki Murphy said, “The kids need unstructured time where they can  make up their own rules.”

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