Even with plenty of research proving the benefits of recess breaks in children, school officials continue to shorten recess as I showed in my previous post. What reasons do they offer? Here I will give some of the factors that contribute to the decision to shorten recess or eliminate it altogether in some cases.
- Eliminating or shortening recess can provide additional time that teachers can use to improve students’ academic performance.
- Tony Harduar, president of the National Association of Elementary School Principals says, “Principals are in a tough situation. These administrators know that kids need exercise, but they also feel the sting of legislation aimed at improving test scores and bolstering basic skills. A principals job can depend on the decision he or she makes.”
- Outdoor play can lead to injuries in children which may result in a lawsuit.
- School officials are concerned about strangers’ access to children on school grounds and the shortage of teachers and volunteers to supervise.
- Administrators are more aware of bullying that takes place on the playground during unsupervised activities.
- Alejandro Echevarria, Principal of Broadway Elementary School in Newark, N.J., says “I was seeing nosebleeds, busted lips, and students being a danger to themselves and other [during recess].”
I’m not saying that these reasons are not valid, but there are compromises that can be made and solutions available so that recess stays a part of every child’s school day. Currently, it is up to individual schools and sometimes teachers to determine whether children receive recess or not. Cutting recess is also used as a typical form of punishment for kids who act out in class, who I believe are the ones who need it the most. It should not be up to individual opinions about recess, but mandatory in all elementary schools nationwide. Secretary of Eduation Arne Duncan, please pass a law mandating 45 minutes of recess time in all kindergarten through sixth grade elementary schools.