Using recess and home play to teach the balance of work hard, play hard

Today's guest blog post is by parent, former public school teacher, play advocate and writer Meg Rosker. She was recently featured in the New York Times and other local TV news. Her favorite playful pastime is dancing and singing with her kids. She blogs at

We all remember the relief of running out the door to recess.  Sadly, many students aren’t experiencing this same glee and that may have devastating results. Recess affords children a time to have fun and relax. The inner world of a child, the importance of their social and emotional experiences cannot be denied. It is our responsibility to provide them an opportunity for a break, a time to play. We have a responsibility to let them be kids. They must play.
Recess also helps students learn balance between work and play. This balance prepares them for the fact that many times in life we must work hard; we must persevere and overcome huge obstacles. However, there is also a time in life for leisure. Keeping a child at school for an extended day, on Saturdays and multiple sessions of summer school isn't the answer to brighter students. Students must have a brain break in order to absorb more information and to help them learn the careful balance between work and play.
One of the core values of this country is to work hard and play hard.  It is in leisure time, book ended by hard work, that Americans dream and invent and explore.  We have forgotten that one of the hallmarks to our culture is our innovation and our personal freedoms. Not allowing children to play impinges on them both.
While I appreciate that thousands of children in our country are performing below state standards, this is not ever a reason to deny a child recess. This is not a reason to ever deny a child the right they have to explore the world and be taught balance between work and play.
Every child, no matter where they live or what challenges they may face deserves the chance to be a child, to learn the lessons of a child and maintain, though it may be brief, a relationship with the innocence of youth.
The learning experience needs to include recess and free play. These are the best and strongest tools we have for creating a generation of caring, concerned and confident young adults.

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