Let me begin by being completely honest. I hate recess. I hate being out in the cold. I hate being out when it’s hot. I am not fortunate enough to work in a school where teachers have aides that monitor recess. I , and my teammates take the kids out for 20 minutes a day, unless of course it’s too hot or too cold.
Today, I read an article, “Losing Recess”, written by a parent who noticed changes in her child. She attributed these changes to the fact that her kindergartener was not going out for recess. The teacher told her that they had too much work to do. Kindergarteners? Aren’t they supposed to go outside and play? If no other grade goes out, wouldn’t you at least think kindergarteners would?
As much as I despise recess, I have to agree with the points she made in her article. We have to give our kids a break. At some point, they have to be able to go outside, run around,and breathe. In the last few years, my former principal had toyed with the idea of getting rid of recess entirely, but we teachers did protest too much! That idea was canned, so he just shortened it by 10 minutes. God forbid, we waste 10 minutes of learning time. Then our former nurse got in on it, she wanted recess banned, because, get this, there were too many accidents. Are you kidding me? Maybe, she was running out of band-aids or ice packs.
Another point made in the article was that recess isn’t just recess. There’s more to it than, “Go outside and play.” It teaches socialization skills, leadership skills, gives the new kids a chance to make friends, gives our video-saturated kids a chance to run around, and the part I do like, gives me a chance to have informal conversations with my students.
My colleague would miss being the quarterback for 5th graders, and I would miss showing my kids that I can still jump double dutch, even if I do pant heavily afterwards. And if we’re to follow the First Lady’s initiative, how do we take away the one part of the day when some of these kids actually get off their tush?
I know state “ test score anxiety” (TSA) has pushed us into situations that are completely unfavorable for our students. But recess? Come on, I think we should leave it alone, and/or bring it back, even if I do have to go outside.