Monday, February 2, 2015

"Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity." Kay Redfield Jamison, Contemporary American Professor of Psychiatry

While I was traveling in Florida for the month of January,  I was stunned when the television news talked about enacting a law which would eliminate recess for elementary students, not just in Florida, but in many US states. The reason :  recess takes precious time away from teaching the standards and all of the material that must be covered.

Are you kidding me?

I have to wonder about the obesity problem that has been in the news for so long. Wouldn't taking away recess contribute to the obesity problems with our children? But for me, that is not the real issue.

I believe that recess provides just as much learning as a classroom setting, and in some cases more.  Kids can learn social skills, teamwork, and getting along with others, just by being on the playground. They learn to take turns, to lead others, to follow others, and to play by the rules.  They can learn about bullying and compassion, as well as standing up for themselves and others. They learn that everyone does not have the same talents; rather, that people have different talents. Someone who cannot catch a ball outside may be a fine artist in the classroom.  In my opinion, recess has real life lessons that students will carry with them for years to come.  I still remember playing hopscotch and dodge ball and football and whiffle ball, picking up teams, and learning the rules of the playground.  I quickly learned who threw the fastest pitches, how to catch a football so it didn't sting, and to include others who sat on the sidelines.  I can remember swinging on the swings with a friend who was sad, not conversing, merely comforting her by my presence.  I feel confident that my IQ for dealing with people increased because of my time on the playground.  

I am not saying that standards and learning are not important.  I simply think that children need a time for release and play.  Are so many children really ADD or ADHD, or are they just not able to sit still for long periods of time?  Recess gives kids a chance to use some energy on the playground, and then they can re-focus in the classroom.  For some students who have difficulty learning, recess is the only time of the day that they can really fit in and be happy.

Isn't that what we really want - for our children to be in a safe and happy learning environment at school?  I think recess contributes to both happiness and learning.  

Let's keep recess in elementary schools. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.

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