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Recess Recession

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According to a new study published in the February 2009 Pediatrics journal, there is a strong connection between recess time and elementary students’ good classroom behavior, the Washington Post reports. Many students aren’t getting recess time due in part to No Child Left Behind consuming more classroom hours.

This, says Romina M. Barros, who published the study, needs to change. “When we restructure our education system, we have to think that recess should be a part of the education system…if they could have 15 minutes indoors. Unstructured time, that’s all they need.”

Barros and her colleagues looked at a database of nearly 11,000 8- and 9-year-olds. The children were divided by the amount of recess they had each day ranging from some to none or minimal (0-15 minutes per day).

Students with more recess time behaved better in the classroom.

According to Jane Ripperger-Suhler, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science and pediatrics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, students build social skills during recess time. “Conflict resolution is solved on the playground, not in the classroom”

Students from disadvantaged communities often have less recess time. Barros’ study found that the “30 percent of children who had no or only minimal breaks were more likely to be black, from households with lower incomes and lower education levels, to be living in the Northeast or South, and to be attending urban public school.”

6 Comments

If recess helps students to learn better, (and I know it worked for me some 50 years ago :)), then shouldn't it be part of No Child Left Behind? Don't we all work better after a "break" in our own jobs?

The punitive measures in NCLB mean that principals who fail to raise test scores in line with the ever-increasing goals can lose their jobs and their schools closed. Is it any wonder then that they panic and do anything they can think of to boost scores, even when it is shortsighted and counter-productive? The president and congress should act immediately to end the NCLB reign of fear and allow some sanity back into educational reform.

Anthony:

I'm sorry, but that excuse just doesn't wash--particularly in light of the evidence (and common sense) that many of the measures employed DON'T raise test scores. Prior to NCLB we had years of ESEA--without sanctions--and very little change. Schools are closed because families have gone elsewhere (charter schools, suburbs, etc). SOME schools have been reconstituted after years of failure to improve.

I don't see some of the non-sensical non-solutions as panic reactions at all. I see a lot of passive-agressive responsibility shifting and punishment of students and parents. I also see a lot of "waiting this one out," on the assumption that a new administration will remove accountability measures and allow for a return to "good enough" education for kids on the lower end of the spectrum.

There is certainly a drive to increase instructional time that is driven by the IDEA issues and the difficulties administrators have in meeting ever-increasing score numbers. However, the central issue seems to me to be that we can't keep doing things the same way for the same amount of time and expect better results.

The loss of recess time does negatively impact my students. Wiggles and giggles do get worse when recess is missed for any reason.

I believe the answer is to keep trying different things to meet our students' needs within a reasonable length day rather than expanding time with no breaks, and that is what most teachers that I know are seeking, Nobody I know in education wants to bailout of a reasonable accounting system for student and school progress, but those who see students every day know that some time out of class does improve student progress for the rest of the time spent in class.

I don't know that I would prefer to have recess federally mandated. I hope administrators throughout the nation would look at the results of the study and decide to include the recess time as a vital part of the educational day. I'm glad that our school does this, and I know it does make a big difference in our students' learning day.

I have let my 2nd graders have recess for many years. They are elementary students! I beleive that some of the behavior problems in middle school could be alleviated by recess there, too.

I saw the title on this article and thought about how far we have gone towards catering to "assessment". We complain as a country about the fact that our children are obese, lazy, and lack problem solving skills and people skills. Hmmm... 30 years ago - recess was a valuable part of the school day. Children (before ADHD) got an opportunity to run and work out problems with others on the playground. If anything, we need physical education and yes - "recess" back in the school day. Perhaps the incidence of misbehavior would decrease significantly and the brain could get some fresh air to learn at its peak. It wouldn't hurt our children's EQ either! Hats off to the schools of yesteryear that knew recess worked!

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  • Angelia Greiner: I saw the title on this article and thought about read more
  • debbie fite: I have let my 2nd graders have recess for many read more
  • Mike Culp: There is certainly a drive to increase instructional time that read more
  • Margo/Mom: Anthony: I'm sorry, but that excuse just doesn't wash--particularly in read more
  • Anthony Cody: The punitive measures in NCLB mean that principals who fail read more

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