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Mandating Fun

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Recess is on the chopping block, and its supporters are stamping their feet, complaining loudly, and talking to anyone who will listen. And that's just the parents. Kids are getting involved, too, through a massive "Rescuing Recess" letter-writing campaign spearheaded by the National PTA and the Cartoon Network. New government study results show that the percentage of schools that don't have recess is on the rise. And while the recess-less schools are still in the minority—only 7 percent of 1st graders and 13 percent of 6th graders have no recess—many parents sense that school-sanctioned playtime is under attack, and they're ready to put up a racket to save it. Parents in Tacoma, Washington, want the school to mandate separate recess periods each day, rather than just designating lunch as the time for students to kick back. While school officials blame academic pressure and increased testing when cutting recess time, some parents are adamant that playtime is non-negotiable. "It's a time for children to be imaginative, to show innovation on the playground," said parent Diane Larson.

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Not only has recess been eliminated (or left up to the teacher's discretion) in our schools, but playtime in kindergarten is a thing of the past as well. There are no toys, no puzzles, no blocks, no manipulatives of any kind for kids to play with and they do not have sufficient time for socialization. They occasionally get to talk for maybe 30 seconds at a time during their daily 90 minute Houghton Mifflin (Reading First) Literacy blocks. I would like to know if there are other school districts where highly paid "experts" and school board members blatantly ignore the developmental needs of our young children.

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