We recently conducted some research to learn more about how parents view recess at their school. While they expressed various viewpoints on how recess was going at their individual schools, there was one thing they all agreed on: recess should be part of every school day.
While it’s far from the first published commentary on the topic, recently, Head of School at Dedham Country Day School, Nicolas Thacher, shared his thoughts in Education Week
after morning recess was eliminated from his local public schools:
“Tragically, the kids in the public school classrooms in my town are about to learn what the phrase “the long haul” really means. It means their opportunity to burn off calories and energy, to practice the social skills that lead to successful interaction with peers in a relatively unstructured setting, to master the challenge of a long slide or a swing set or simply to take a moment, like Prince Hamlet, to study the clouds or listen to the wind—all of these learning opportunities have been hammered out of their dreary mornings on the anvil of No Child Left Behind. A long haul, a long road, a long march.”
Commentaries like these provoke more people to think about the value of school recess, but they alone do not create more opportunities for play. This takes hard work. The best recess policies are established from the ground up. Check out these ideas for how hard work can bring big recess payoff:
- When enough community members speak up, recess may be reinstated or increased.
- Children can become a community of leaders and problem solvers on a playground when adults help children take charge.
- A play space can be revitalized with the help of volunteers. Students, parents, teachers and all those closest to the playground must take action to make recess a priority.
- Speak up so others will join your cause. When school community members see the value of recess time, play time becomes productive, meaningful and fun.
What have you done to make recess meaningful? Please share your experience and ideas to others.