If you are a teacher in a school where children are lucky enough to get recess, please don’t use it as a disciplinary tool. Don’t deny students with behavioral issues recess for punishment. If you do, not only will you not be doing right by your students, you will risk looking like you know little about children and their needs.
If you are a teacher with parents who don’t like recess, and I have known parents like this, you need to discuss the importance of recess with them.
The important thing is to know that other professional groups are increasingly understanding the importance of recess and they will point to teachers who deny recess as not doing right by children. Teachers will eventually look most unprofessional—even cruel.
Evie Blad at Ed. Week writes about how there are some places like Minnesota, where lawmakers might rule against permitting teachers to withhold recess as punishment. Many schools are insisting teachers not use recess as punishment. So teachers may no longer be legally permitted to deny recess to a child.
In fact, why teachers have not picketed for recess in general, that they haven’t been out on the frontline fighting for their students’ right to recess, always perplexes me. Teachers should stand with pediatricians and others who support recess.
How many times must it be said, that making children into workhorses with no breaks is tantamount to child abuse?
The fact that the teaching profession needs parents, wellness advocates and pediatricians to stand up for the right of children to get unconditional breaks, while some teachers deny students recess, is troubling.
And when I talk about recess, I am not talking about P.E. or organized play. I’m speaking about breaks for children, where they get a little time each day to do as they please on the playground.
If we learn anything right in teacher education, it should be how important free play and activity is to a child’s physical and mental development and well-being.
Teachers, of all people, should also understand the information they can glean by observing children on the playground. They should have been hollering for years about this, instead of passing off bubble tests to kindergarteners.
Yet, some teachers not only refuse to support recess for children, they appear to be part of the problem!
Recess for children who have behavioral problems or who are hyperactive is important. It will help them focus and probably lead to better work—and test scores.
A friend of mine who is a veterinarian told me a while back, and we were discussing high-stakes testing, that she didn’t understand how teachers could be complicit in the terrible testing that they do. She compared how she treated animals and her obligation to always do right by them.
While I can see her point, I also understand and even defend teachers who are backed against the wall when it comes to high-stakes testing, because they are fearful of losing their jobs. The rules are handed down to them by administrators.
But with recess, when teachers have a choice and they choose to punish by withholding recess, instead of doing the right thing, they are the ones making a huge mistake. And it appears many are beginning to realize it.