Recess is an important part of every child’s day and the value of it far outweighs the punishment of removing it. So why are teachers taking it away so much?
The thought of teachers taking recess away from kids as punishment has never made very much sense to me. Even though I don’t have an education or psychology degree, I just knew in my gut that for young kids, that couldn’t be a good punishment.
The more I heard tales of kids having their recess taken away the more I read and researched.
I found science after science stating why kids not only NEED time to play and run, but that the kids that are having behavioral issues, need it more than anyone else.
Eight of the nine studies found positive associations between classroom- based physical activity and indicators of academic performance. – CDC
Taking unstructured play away from children that are already struggling to regulate their behavior, sit still, be quiet and focus will not correct the problem. In fact, it’s going to make it much worse.
Why Kids Need Recess
1. Recess increases your focus. Have a kid in class that can’t focus on their work to finish in time? That is precisely why they need free time outside. Studies have shown (source) recess is associated with improved attention and concentration.
2. Recess gives an outlet for all that energy. Is there a kid in class that shouts, stands up when he should be sitting, or fidgets all the time? Recess is a time for them to do all the things they can’t in class. It’s OK for them to need to run and yell, just give them a place to do it.
3. Physical movement is good for the brain. It increases the growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus which happens to be the part of the brain that is the center of learning and memory. (source) It also increases blood flow, oxygenation and brain tissue volume.
And so many more great benefits like developing social skills and increasing levels of Vitamin D.
The Special Impact On Boys
- This study said eight and nine year old boys that got daily recess had better overall classroom behavior.
- This study showed that young boys who spent more time sitting and less time playing didn’t progress as quickly in reading and math.
An Alternative To Taking Away Recess
One alternative that may not be a perfect solution, but is one that is at least on the path to getting it right, is giving laps. I have seen teachers, instead of take away time outside, give children laps for their “punishment”.
When a child is significantly misbehaving, they receive a lap. Then at recess you have that many times you need to take a walk around the playground before you are free to play.
They are still moving their body, getting fresh air and exercise, and are not required to sit still.
Please, don’t use recess privileges as a punishment.
Teachers don’t always have a chance to give kids the vital components they need to succeed in the classroom like a good night of sleep or healthy food. But this is one thing they do have control over.
So please, teachers, don’t take their recess away.
More Great Parenting Reads
- The Reality of Why Kids Aren’t As Happy As They Used To Be
- 5 Life Changing Documentaries To Watch With Your Kids
- Why Risky Play Is So Good For Our Kids
Liz is a just a mom trying to keep it real about how little she sleeps, how often she gets puked on and how much she loves them. You can find her here every day writing about real-mom moments.