Children have been in school for awhile. How much recess are they getting? Is their school day overly organized? Are they getting pretend recess–physical education, or some canned program from a digital device?
How many principals are tricking parents into thinking their children are getting real recess?
Even preschool parents need to ask this question. There’s been an escalation of micromanaging and technology when it comes to our youngest learners!
Many parents pleaded and fought with legislators and school administrators to get a mere 20 minute break for their children in school. But recess should be a child’s right—a break from schoolwork and time to socialize and play on the playground.
There should be several recess breaks a day. To not give children recess is tantamount to child abuse!
Many strange claims of recess have popped up—most which have not been recess at all.
- Nonprofit groups like Shape Up America and Playworks are P.E. programs disguised as recess.
- Getting children to meditate or do mindfulness. Om. Not Recess.
- Letting children sit on bouncy balls while they work. Please!
- Children playing digital games like Brain Breaks. Go Noodle, Leap Band, and moving a joystick. No!
Some of these activities may be fine on their own, but they are not recess!
Non-Profit Phys. Ed.
I have already written about money making groups that go into schools to organize children for physical education activities. This is sneaky school privatization.
Phys. ed. is important in its own right, and there are plenty of good P.E. teachers to teach these classes.
But no matter whether it’s a nonprofit, or a legitimate physical education class, these programs involve organized play. Adults tell children what to do.
This is not recess.
Technology Taking Over Play
Some students get to play activities tied to a screen, Brain Breaks is popular. Likewise, with Go Noodle, students watch and follow an activity video in class. This sounds fun. Children learn to follow directions. They get exercise. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s not recess.
Children don’t have to imagine or reflect on anything creative. There’s no interaction with other children based on the child’s choice. They have no choices to make on their own.
Another digital device is Leap Band, a wrist gizmo for preschoolers to get them to follow directions and get active. It’s called a “customizable pet band.” The child wears it like a watch, and animals pop up to tell them “hop like a frog” or “jump like a kangaroo” et cetera.
It tracks a child’s progress, because you know parents and teachers like to keep track of how many hops children do each day. O.K. Maybe children like to keep track of that.
It’s implied that it will get them away from the screen and give them a break. If preschoolers are so engrossed in online viewing they need another digital device to distract them—maybe it’s time to worry.
Leap Band is a part of Leap Frog materials, which include Leap Frog Academy, which is interactive tech material for students ages 3-6.
It might be fun for a child, but it is by no means free play.
All the Leap Frog stuff was acquired by Knowledge Universe, owned, in part, by Michael Milken (as in “junk bond conviction”) who has been a part of K12 Online Learning and other bad tech stuff in education.
Play is What Teaches
All of the above don’t get children thinking on their own. What the adults who deny children recess and free play don’t understand, recess involves a child using their own brain to think. Any structured activity, while it might have its own benefits, strips a child from this ability.
When children are told what to do and how to do it, they lose their right to be children.
Recess is not really recess.
So, what kind of recess are children getting this year? How much? And is it really recess?