Monday, December 8, 2014

Erin Earle
Recess IS Test Effecient!!

                Test, test, test…this is all school districts seem to care about. They fret about how to improve test scores not about which students may not have had a warm place to sleep or food since they ate last at school. They also don’t seem to really care about why behavior referrals are through the roof at such a young age. It seems that they want test scores to go up but don’t really want to look at the things that are holding test scores down. One of the several issues at hand is the lack of recess or the lack of taking a break from structured academics. Administrators and school officials need to take a page from preschools and allow more free play time. Preschool administrators seem to be reading and adhering to the research that stresses the importance of free play even through the adolescent years and quite frankly, adult years. Who doesn’t benefit from a mental break? Everything is about cramming as much academics in to a school day as possible and at the expense of recess and specials (music, art, physical education, library, technology). Academics is obviously the most important aspect of the school day but is it the most efficient use of time to not allow mental play breaks. I know that when I take small breaks from work, I am much more focused on the tasks at hand.
                Those that specialize in the wellbeing of children outside of the educational realm, aka pediatricians, seem to know and understand the importance of recess. In the article “The Crucial Role of Recess in School” in Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the contributors write of how recess “affords a time to rest, play, imagine, think, move, and socialize.” Recess allows children to develop social skills that are not developed during structured classroom time (Crucial Role of Recess in School, 2013). Studies show that it does not matter where recess is performed, indoors or outdoors, just that it is because this break helps students to be more attentive and productive in the classroom. This is what all educators want, for academic time to be utilized well.
                Research from the Scholastic journal Instructor article, “Recess Makes Kids Smarter” also supports the continued implementation and even an increase in recess. It states that recess benefits students in the classroom by allowing them to be less fidgety and more on task, have improved memory, more focused attention, develop more brain connections, learn negotiation skills, exercise leadership, and are more physically active before and after school. Teachers are in support of all of these things and all of these things add to the overall wellbeing of children. It would stand to reason that when a child is able to make more brain connections, be less fidgety, and have more focused attention that the precious test scores that school administrators are in search of would be more attainable.
                There is concern that with the unstructured time of recess comes behavioral issues and possibility of injury. Coming from an educator standpoint both of these concerns happen at school regardless. It is safe to say that millions of students of the past have survived school-time recess to become adults. School officials should implement and enforce appropriate boundaries for recess time but allow the students and the teachers to reap the benefits of recess. The administrators will get their coveted test scores


  1. I think you have chosen a great topic. I also think you have the beginnings of a strong argument. The organization could be stronger. This is an argument I think almost anyone would agree with you. However, to convince the powers that be to give students more breaks from academics, I think you should give more specific details and quotes. Cite in APA or MLA format. The content is there, but it would have to be packaged in a way that will have more impact.

    1. I truly struggled to write this. It is something that I feel pretty strong about but found organizing my many thoughts very challenging and frustrating! Thanks for your kind words and advice!!

  2. Erin,
    I agree with you that students need recess and it seems like it has been cut more and more over the last four years. Our principals claim that teachers have 20 more minutes of instruction time with students, but from what I have heard and experienced, I really don't think the extra 20 minutes of instruction time is benefiting the students. Students are much more focused when they have had a recess break. Many teachers, still take their classes out on their own time to make up for the lack of recess time. With your paper you might want to include a resource representing the other side of your argument. You seem very passionate about this topic and your voice is heard loud and clear. Bethany

  3. Erin, I think you did an excellent job picking an extremely timely and controversial topic in education. My own district used to have a short morning and afternoon recess for the primary students, in addition to the regular recess after lunch. Our administrators cut the additional afternoon recess last year. The primary teachers were very upset by this, and I believe they are rightfully disgruntled. Even in 4th grade and 5th grade, I find myself working hard to include daily classroom activities that foster movement. We ALL need to MOVE!