Stop making children choose between recess and musical education programs

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What do you think a child in fourth grade would choose? Band or recess? Both shape the lives children will go on to lead. Both are important, so why is our school district making children the age of nine choose? Most nine year old probably don’t realize the lifelong benefits that musical education programs have to offer. All they see is playtime being replaced by another class. The kids that go to these programs instead of recess are losing out on an important part of elementary school.
Recess gives kids social skills, an opportunity to make friends. When children can’t drive and the number of after-school programs are pretty limited, the only time a child gets to spend with their friends is during recess. This is especially true when elementary schools are consolidated, meaning that students are coming from several different towns miles apart. Friends influence interests and lead to new opportunities. They encourage each other to try new things. Joining a new activity is much less daunting to elementary schoolers when they have friends with them. In High School this opens doors to paths to careers. Taking away recess takes away the time children have to make friends. When children are deprived of this time to form friendships, they’re also being deprived of the opportunities these friendships lead to. “Children need to have downtime between complex cognitive challenges….they tend to be less able to process information the longer they are held to a tast. It’s not enough to just switch from math to english. You actually have to take a break,” says the the American Academy of Pediatrics or AAP. Dr. Robert Murray, a pediatrician and professor of human nutrition at Ohio State University, developed this statement with the AAP after a study in 2007. They discovered that not only is recess important for physical health, but emotional and cognitive development as well.
The drop of students joining chorus and band in elementary schools is beginning to hit the high schools hard. Armstrong High School already has a small band and chorus when compared to other schools the football tier Armstrong plays in. Since last year, the numbers are expected to keep dropping because of the lack of students in band and chorus at the elementary schools. When chorus and band took place during flex and study periods, the only obstacle to keeping kids in these programs was scheduling conflicts. Adding the obstacle of musical education during recess drops the number to one more commonly found at smaller school districts. Children who have interests in music and on the fence about joining a program are being pushed towards not joining. When programs have less students, they have a higher chance of being cut. If the school district sees money going into a dying program, they will question the need for musical education.
Musical education being cut would be a tragedy. Programs like band and chorus have many benefits. The National Association for Musical Education’s website, has a list that goes far more in depth than what I talk about here. Their list talks about the impact it has on education. They say that students in programs such as band and chorus have higher SAT scores by 44-63 points. They advocate that these programs teach discipline and teamwork. That musical education drives students to want to come to school and improve their work in all subjects of study. Band and chorus help students to improve self confidence and positively impact their ability and character. The benefits above are only a small portion of the importance behind musical education programs.
The elementary schools in Armstrong School District found time in the past for students to both have musical education programs such as band and chorus and recess separately. Why has this changed so that students now have to choose? If you misbehave in elementary school, the privilege of recess is taken away. If you want to pursue musical programs in elementary school, the privilege of recess is taken away. Why is the Armstrong School District making musical programs feel like a punishment by holding band and chorus during recess?

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