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Students' Right to Recess in Kansas

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Across the country, time spent on academic instruction has increased while access to outdoor time, exercise and play has dwindled.  Children have a need, and a right, to have outdoor breaks from classroom instruction in which they are given access to unstructured play and nature.  

In 2013, the American Academic of Pediatrics put out a statement in support of children's right to recess.  In that statement, they stated "The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons."  This statement was issued over four years ago, and yet, the withholding of recess continues to be a classroom management strategy used in Kansas schools. 

As parents, we have seen our children miss recess for a variety of reasons: incomplete homework, failure to wait silently in line, talking during lunch and failure to achieve academic standards.  In none of these situations is the removal of recess helping to improve our students abilities to learn, reason, grow, achieve or get along better with peers.  While we understand that classroom management is a challenge, we ask that Kansas teachers work to find positive behavioral management strategies without limiting our children's access to outdoor play. 

If anything, time spent outside and in nature should be increased.  As a state with a rich agricultural tradition, we should be incorporating more nature-based instruction into our classrooms.  The Walton Rural Life Center in Walton, KS is an outstanding model for Kansas schools to follow.  Their adoption of an agricultural-based charter school has improved attendance and reduced behavioral problems in the school. 

We ask that the Kansas State Department of Education adopt a state-wide policy that eliminates the withholding of recess time from students.  Along with this, increased instruction on positive behavioral management strategies should be offered, particularly to our substitute teachers, who appear to rely more heavily on withholding recess.  In addition, school districts should be encouraged to adopt agricultural and/or nature-based programs within their schools, K-12.


January 2013, VOLUME 131 / ISSUE 1
From the American Academy of Pediatrics
Policy Statement
The Crucial Role of Recess in School 

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