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Banning School Recess: Cause and Effect
Recess is a time in which every child in America experienced and enjoyed at one point in their lifetime. Look back to your own childhood: how important was recess and play time to you? Banning recess in elementary schools has been an important topic of debate for most school districts around the country. As stated by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines recess as ‘regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured physical activity and play’” (Murray and Ramstetter 183). Almost half of all school districts have shifted time away from recess to improve academic performances. Along with academic reasons, school officials claim many causes for banning recess, but like most other decisions, doing so comes with consequences and effects. Schools across the nation have decided to shorten or eliminate recess in response to upcoming and recent threats and problems. Unlike the “old days”, schools now are concerned for liability, safety, and most importantly, academic reasons. Eliminating recess provides more time teachers need to adhere to the pressures of improved test scores. Along with academic reasoning come liability issues. Outdoor play can lead to injuries for children, which may possibly result in lawsuits filed against school systems. Although very unlikely, school districts look at this as a precaution. While recess is in session, children are allotted that time for unstructured physical activity and play. Unfortunately, not all children use this time in the expected way. In “Hard Times for Recess,” David Bornstein states that close to 90 percent of disciplinary problems occur during recess or lunch or the transitions before and after.” Today, recess consists of children running around aimlessly, and is used as a time to bully or fight other children. “A child’s safety during recess is a concern for many parents, teachers, and administrators” (Murray and Ramstetter 184). They are concerned about strangers’ access to children, and the shortage of teachers and volunteers to supervise at recess. The only solution deemed possible to many elementary schools across the country is to shorten or eliminate recess altogether, but what is not considered is how recess affects the child’s development and well-being. Recess offers children benefits that help to improve cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of their development. “According to the Pediatrics journal “The Crucial Role of Recess in School,” “children develop intellectual constructs and cognitive understanding through interactive, manipulative experiences” (Murray and Ramstetter 183). In other words, children experience and learn various cognitive skills that are not learned in a classroom, but during unstructured play at recess. If one were to study elementary students throughout the school day, he/she would notice that the children become inattentive and restless after sitting at a desk for a period of time. Recess gives children the time that they need to release energy to be able to come back to class more concentrated and productive. When recess is eliminated from elementary schools, these cognitive benefits and skills are lost. Even with more instructional time, most of it would be lost trying to get the children to pay attention throughout an entire school day. Along with cognitive benefits come social and emotional benefits. “Recess promotes social and emotional learning and development for children by offering them time to engage in peer interactions…” (Murray and Ramstetter 184). While interacting with other children at recess, students learn communication skills that they wouldn’t learn sitting in a classroom or at home. Some skills include cooperation, sharing, problem solving, and self-control. All of these skills are used throughout the...
Cited: "The Argument Against Recess." Four Corners: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Recess: A Call to Arne Duncan. Wordpress, 3 Apr. 2010. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .
Bornstein, David. "Hard Times for Recess." The New York Times. N.p., 4 Apr. 2011. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .
Murray, Robert, and Catherine Ramstetter. "The Crucial Role of Recess in School." Pediatrics 131.1 (2012): 183-84. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .
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