Recess is Needed!

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The first memory of elementary school is usually not a person, what a teacher is like, or the lessons that were learned each day. Most memories are probably of recess and the playground: cooite chases, kickball, tag and the good ole monkey bars. Unfortunately, for todays generation of students, the likelihood of not having recess is becoming more and more prominent in public schools. In A 1989 survey of state superintendents conducted by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, they found that ninety percent of schools in the different school districts had at least one recess period during the day. However, according to the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play, many school systems have abolished recess since 1989. One reason that recess should be mandated in the elementary school is because the break that recess provides allows the students to keep their attention; they are not worn out by the instruction in the classroom. Another reason that recess should be policy in grade school is because the activities involved in recess can help the children have a higher self-esteem and self-awareness. The next reason that schools should make recess mandatory is that the time recess provides allows the students to socialize with their peers in an uninstructed setting. The final reason that recess should not be prohibited by any school would be that the physical activity that recess provides benefits the heath of all the students involved.
Over the past couple of decades, recess is slowly becoming prohibited in elementary schools. Many schools eliminate playgrounds and the idea of socialization amount the students all together. Professor Melinda Bossenmeyer cites some reasons for the elimination in her article Eliminate Recess! Lets skip it! She states that reasons such as liability concerns, supervision hardships, and the pressure to increase academic achievement are what provoke educators to do away with recess. School and government officials believe it is more important to test students that allow them to be children, to play, pretend and practice in becoming socialized adults. Past generations look back on memories of recess rather than those of what happened in second grade. For the next generations, the lack of recess could be harmful to their development, rather than beneficial in the asset of enhancing their academic performance.
One reason that recess should be mandated in elementary school is because of the break that recess provides. This break allows students to keep their attention after being worn out by the instruction in the classroom. When interviewing my neighbor Kathy, who has two kids in private school, I found out her beliefs on recess,
My children are six and seven. I do agree that children need more play time.My children go to a high academic private school in Columbus, but they doget three recesses per day (one is during lunch), plus P.E, P.E. is three days aweek for the younger grades. They are just short recesss (Ibelieve 15 minutes),but I think it helps, I can tell at home when I am working with them that aftera while, its pretty much a waster of time to keep pushing them to do theirhomework if we dont stop and play for a while. I imagine it would be thesameat school, and much less productive to just work, work, work.


This shows that not only do experts believe that a break is necessary but a local citizen that has two kids in schools does as well. An article in the National Association for the Education of Young Childrens journal, titled The Value of School Recess and Outdoor Play, illustrates an effect of what recess allows students to do. It states, Physical activity improves childrens attentiveness and decreases restlessness This author claims that by allowing the students to stay active during the day, they will develop a better awareness, become more awake and attentive. By permitting students to have a break after a math lesson would help them recall information better than making them sit there and listen to a long flow of information that never ends. The break would allow excess energy to be released and more concentration put on the subject. Author Susan Ohanian agrees and believes allowing a break fro attention benefits children. She states her book, What Happened to Recess and Why are your Children struggling in Kindergarten? by taking away childrens free time, schools are making it more difficult for them to pay attention. (Ohanian 2) Trying to keep a group of ten year olds attention for longer than three hours and relentlessly feeding them information is extremely difficult, no matter how great the teacher is. Both experts agree that providing breaks benefit the students learning abilities by increasing their attention span. Recess should be allowed in order to keep the attention of the students, which would make greater achievement in the classroom.
Another reason that recess should be policy in grade school is because the activities involved in recess can help children have higher self-esteem and a greater self-awareness. Authors Frank and Theresa Caplan in their book, The Power of Play, provide an example of the psychological benefits gained from recess. They state, Through play, a child lays the base for his development of a wholesome personality and the ability to function satisfactorily in the world in which he lives. (Caplan and Caplan 39) During recess, many processes occur. Such processes include the forming of relationships with peers, interaction with adults and young people, learning fairness, and learning right from wrong. Having recess enables these processes to occur and to teach students how to interact with others, forming norms on what is right from wrong, what is appropriate and who to be around. Recess also provides other mental benefits. They are listed by professors Thomas Yawkey and Anthony Pellegrine in their book Childs Play: Developmental and Applied. They state that play provides opportunities for developing qualities of leadership, follwership, cooperation, competition, teamwork to develop and produce mentally, processing, functional person in society.


The next reason schools should make recess mandatory is that the time recess provides allows the students to socialize with their peers in an uninstructed setting, thus allowing them to become unique individuals. Pellegrinie and Glickman provide an example of how recess benefits the socialization of children in their work The Educational Role of Recess. They state that, Recess is one of the few times during the day when children are free to exhibit a wide range of social competencies such as sharing, cooperation, negative and passive language in a context they see meaningful (24). This statement is saying that recess is a valuable time that most students do not get during the rest of their days because of outside factors such as family obligations and environmental conditions. My moms friend Lisa agrees that recess is a valuable time, she states,
My 2nd grade daughter gets a twenty minute silent lunch and a ten minuterecess each day. Which is not enough time in my opinion; even working adults get longer breaks than that. The reason for the short recess and lunch is that the school is very crowded and they say scheduling time for that would extendwell into the afternoon. My daughters school is kindergarten through 2nd grade yetstill crowded. Next year it will be worse when the kinders go all day 8:55-3:35. The school district next to mine gives its elementary children (k-5th) two ten minute recesses and one fifteen minute recess after lunch, yet they are ranked oneof the best school districts in Ohio. Ten minutes, in my opinion, is not enoughtime to socialize and share new things with your friends, really interact with your friends. They do havea twenty-minute lunch, but that is silent and is notbenefiting them at all.
Sharing and cooperation are social characteristics, like the others, that play provides that are needed for an individuals development to be successful. When asking my old principal, Principal Eisenhower of Goshen Lane Elementary, a few quick questions, I found exactly what her views were. She said, Because recess is one of the few times in the school day when children can interact freely with peers, it is a valuable time in which adults can observe childrens social behaviors, their tendency to bully and fight as well as their leadership and pro-social behaviors. Eisenhower states that by allowing the free socialization of children, adults also benefit by learning and watching the children. By observing, they are able to understand whom the child interacts with, whom they interact with positively and negatively with, and what interests the child. Being able to recognize the social characteristics of the children can help with the education of the children by knowing whom they work best with under what conditions. This information would be very helpful when assigning tasks such as group work. By allowing recess, the socialization of the students is greatly improved, propelling them to interact more positively with individuals.


A final reason that recess should not by prohibited by any school would be that the physical activity that recess provides benefits the physical and mental health of all the students involved. Eisenhower provided me with a negative example of when recess is not allowed. She states, Inactivity is associated with the tripling of childhood obesity since 1970, accompanied by increases in health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. By not allowing students the opportunity to play, to be physically active, and to use energy, they are at a greater risk for developing a wide variety of health problems and risks that could span their entire life, such as obesity. Obesity can later lead to serious problems such as diabetes. High blood pressure and cholesterol only worsen and become more deadly over inactive time. Author Frank Fielden provides a positive example of the health benefits provide by recess in his article, Recess and the Importance of Play: A Position Statement on Young Children and Recess. In his article he said, Physical activity fuels the brain with a better supply of blood and provides brain cells with a healthier supply of natural substances; these substances enhance brain growth and help the brain make a greater number of connections between neurons.(4) The blood flow is increased to not only the brain but also the heart. The greater amount of physical activity also burns calories, keeping the heart, and therefore the brain, healthier. With the benefits of better learning by keeping recess versus the health risk when recess is prohibited, recess should be allowed. Recess should be allowed because it benefits the overall health of students.


One argument that those in favoring of eliminating recess would state, is that the activity and movement that is involved in the gym class should be efficient for the students. Gym class provides constant physical activity and social characteristics such as teamwork, leadership, and cooperation through sports. Yes, there is movement and athletic participation in gym class, however, gym is still a class. There are direction and a teacher figure that is in charge. This does away with the uninstructed playtime. Field agrees with the separation between recess and gym class by stating that, Recess is uninstructed playtime where children have choices, develop rules for play, and release energy and stress. (10) Having recess allows the student to play their games with their own rules giving them a chance to be individuals. Even those not wanting to participate are not forces o during recess, unlike in the gym classroom. Recess permits the students to have choices on where or not to play with different people, to play the games, or just relax in the sun, broadening their social characteristics.
Recess is something that we all remembered and enjoyed when we were in elementary school. Recess benefits all of those involved. Recess allows for breaks that keep the students attention focused during the instructional part of the day. Recess provides a time for the students to develop a greater self-esteem and self-awareness. Recess gives the students an opportunity to socialize and learn to interact with their peers. Recess helps better the physical health of the students as well, without recess, the development; both mentally and physically, of the students would be put at risk.

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