School Without Recess Is a Big, Fat Waste of Time

Rant 9

playground swingsFINALLY! I have been saying for years that school is not just about academics. And now a group of doctors agrees with me. The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out to say -- get this -- recess is just as important as class time.

Got that? They're not just saying that recess is important because, really, DUH. They are saying that recess = class time.

It's a biggie, and I, for one, feel like doing back-flips and somersaults over here in celebration. Maybe even pulling out the dregs of champagne left from the new year's celebration.

The docs at the AAP say recess is a time when kids get a break from "complex cognitive challenges ... They tend to be less able to process information the longer they are held to a task."

I'll go one further. I think that break time is when the OTHER learning happens. I know I'll be criticized for saying it, but I don't believe school is simply a place for kids to learn academics.

I don't just send my kid to school so she will learn to multiply huge sums and spell words the size of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I want all that, naturally. I can't multiply huge sums, so someone else is going to have to teach her!

But I also send her to school so she'll learn to survive in the wild world that exists beyond the comfort of my home.

I want her to learn that if you're bossy to your friends, they will take their toys and go play with someone else. I want her to learn that if you climb to the top of the slide and decide to go down head first, you better be quick with your hands, or you're in for one heckuva bump on the nose at the bottom.

Sure, we can tell our kids these things until we are blue in the face. I know I have. But nothing tones down a little kid's bossiness like having another kid turn tail and run across the playground away from them because they won't let anyone else get a word in edgewise. Nothing.

What do you think? Is recess AS important as class time for your kids?


Image via aka Kath/Flickr

elementary school, education


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purpl... purpleflower514

The school that my older son went to for kindergarden has 20 minutes of recess per day and 10 minutes of "PE". Yeah, not at all jiving with what my husband and I believe is necessary or healthy for young children. He was only there for a year before we decided to homeschool.

SuzyB... SuzyBarno

I totally think that recess is essential in school. I'm my opinion kids need to get their "wiggles" out. I don't have school aged children yet but I do notice that when I'm trying to do something educational with my daughter and she gets frustrated, we take a break and go outside of do a dance party in the living room and then we go back to our worksheets and she is oh so happy to learn. Kids need exercise too.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

It's necessary so long as it's productive but there needs to be some effort involved. Recess is great at my son's school because they have equipment like slides and swings plus they have painted hopscotch grids and they bring out balls and ropes to play with. When I was in school there was nothing. You might see some kindergartners running around but that was about it unless the playground, which was basically a parking lot, iced over and we could slide around and probably send at least one kid up the road to the drs with a head injury or a split elbow. There was no point, we just stood around outside for 15 minutes before coming back in.

nonmember avatar Amanda

What kills me is that any undergrad who has taken educational psychology can tell you that physical activity and breaks are essential in the learning process, especially for young kids. They should have done this years ago. I hope it'll help schools realize this tactic of "drill, drill, drill!" is totally ineffective.

2baby... 2babymomma

My daughters school doesn't have recess.

early... earlybird11

This has actually been said for yrs. Since schools starting cutting recess.. ya about 10.... In normal the stir time, your wayyy late

Betwe... BetweenCourses

A lot of schools around here have very limited recess time and to add insult to injury, they also have silent lunch! No talking during lunch time! Even the teachers hate that rule, but it's a rule from the district, not the teachers.

nurse... nursemama88

While I hate the school ds attends (I went there) I applaud them. They give the kids up to jr high two 20 min recesses 30 min playtime at lunch and then have P.E. as well. I agree that school just isn't learning about academics they also learn important social skills. IMHO I believe learning how to socialize is equally if not more important than books. I think that is the reason why I haven't homeschooled.

nonmember avatar Kerrie

Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I

clicked submit my comment didn't appear. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again.

Anyhow, just wanted to say excellent blog!

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