Welcome to 2016, everyone. Wishing all of you a peaceful, healthy and happy upcoming year. Thank you for your patience and support these past, erratic weeks. I’m working on getting back into some kind of routine.
I heard a recent news snippet that NJ law makers are looking to sign into law a bill that mandates recess for school-aged children. Preferably, one that is held outdoors.
Back in my 6th grade days—yes, the dark ages 😉 —I remember being in 6th grade and having a 15-minute, outdoor recess daily (in addition to lunch recess). In fact, I recall days when it was so windy and cold, a few of my classmates and I tucked ourselves behind a wall outside one of the entrances, creating a shield between us and the wind.
Through high school, I still recall being allowed air. My public high school’s building was a new construction, and included a fully-enclosed courtyard. Kids got to go OUTSIDE during lunch, study hall, etc, but had no way to leave the grounds.
Fast-forward to my kids and 5th grade, when, for the first time in the history of their school lives, the kids got only 10 minutes outdoors after lunch, weather permitting, and those rules far stricter than in my day (i.e., stay off the grass, no ball play, etc) Since my district’s 5th graders attend a 5th-grade only separate building, the kids are appropriately disappointed to find there is no longer a 20-minute lunch recess (after they eat).
By middle school, and through high school, there is NO outdoor time (barring gym; and again, weather-permitting). Movement breaks for the kids are considered “built into” the changing of classes. Like the high school I attended, my current district’s high school has a large, enclosed courtyard, but I’ve never seen it put to use. Nor has either of my kids ever reported spending any time at all there.
I remember reading an article—at least 10 years ago—that stated the diagnosis of ADHD appeared to have risen significantly once recess went out of school.
Sorry for my attitude of disdain, but I can’t help thinking that lawmakers might be priding themselves on having re-invented the wheel. Does it really take a college degree to figure out that kids need to move? Heck, we all do, as the popularity (and big industry) of Fitbits and related technology bears testament.
Present-day curriculums are academics-driven. That’s all fine and appropriate, but not if a child—no matter the age—is so saturated with information, artificial light and re-circulated air that learning is compromised. When did addressing one’s basic human needs go out the window? (Oh, yes, many of the classrooms don’t have those either. Not that every teacher opens them, and some keep the shades down and classrooms dark. Note: I do realize there are areas where it could be more dangerous to leave them open. What a world we seem to be living in.)
Everyone needs to move. We all need fresh air. Babies. Kids. Adults. Seniors. Passing four years of high school Phys Ed is a graduation requirement in my state. NFL Play60 campaign posters are all around. (Honestly, far more than that is much more favorable, but unless a student trains with a school team, who has time when bogged down with academics and homework?) Spending time outdoors, moving, exploring, learning–no technology can replace what a child absorbs from simply being outside and running around, climbing, etc.
The bottom line is this. Introducing recess into the school day is no novel notion. Taking it out was, IMHO, a bad idea in the name of more time for academics. Guess some ‘old school’ ideas are classic and bear re-installment.
Where do you stand? Should recess be re-installed? Or should direct instruction time not be sacrificed? Should outdoor time be left to before and after school, and maybe lunch—or maybe extending a school day to include that? Should middle and high school students be allowed to step outdoors for air during the day?
Enjoy the upcoming (extended) weekend
©Joanne C Timpano (content and images), 2016. All rights reserved.