US: School wants to eliminate recess time. Good move?
WORLD / U.S. – When the No Child Left Behind Act was implemented in the early 2000’s, schools across the country started reducing the time kids spent at recess. The thought was that students would improve their standardized test scores if they had more instructional time during the day.
However, according to a 2009 National Association for the Education of the Young Child publication, “We found no research to support administrators’ assumptions that test scores required by No Child Left Behind could be improved by keeping children in the classroom all day.”
This trend apparently started in the early 1980s, and it has continued until today. Students living in areas of high poverty, especially in rural areas, are particularly vulnerable to school and educational district rules that cut down on recess time.
College Park Academy
One charter school in Prince George’s County near Washington, D.C. is facing this problem today. The County’s Board of Education voted to completely eliminate recess at College Park Academy – a junior high charter school – for the 2014-2015 school year.
A school day at College Park Academy was 7.5 hours from 8:25am to 3:55pm. With no recess, the day would end at 3:20. The teachers noted that students were very fatigued by the end of the day.
Recess is not the only special school time to suffer. Arts and other programs are being reduced around the country as well, according to a Washington Post article by Ovetta Wiggins.
School rules in Prince George’s County state that middle schools do not have to offer recess at all. Other middle schools in the county don’t offer it. Elementary schools in the county should offer it for between 15 and 30 minutes per day.
Many parents think the idea is unreasonable, especially since the curriculum for College Park Academy is online, and half of the curriculum is taught with computers. These parents hold that students should have time to interact socially and to have some relaxation time.
Importance of Recess
Recess is a “crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The NAEYC lists many benefits of recess in a 2009 publication, including physical, social-emotional, and cognitive.
The unstructured aspect of recess is a critical component of the benefits it offers, according to a 2009 article published online by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. While physical education may offer movement, it does not allow students the brain break they need to successfully function in the classroom.
Do you think recess is as important for students as curriculum time in school?