Stop the Elimination of Recess
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Elementary students are experiencing less and less recess time throughout their school days, which is affecting their actions in the classrooms, as well as their physical and mental health. As stated by award winning journalist Alia Wong, “In a survey of school-district administrators, roughly a third said their districts had reduced outdoor play in the early 2000s.”
Schools are taking recess time away from their students in order to either get more information taught for standards, or to punish bad behavior in the classroom. However, recess is an activity that is extremely beneficial to young children. According to the Journal of School Health, “National organizations have noted the importance of recess for promoting children’s academic, social, and physical growth” (533). Lindsay Turner, an Educational researcher at Boise State University, goes onto explain that, “in addition to the health benefits of physical activity, a substantial amount of research links physical activity with enhanced academic performance” (533).
The nature of recess gives students the opportunities to explore and play in an unstructured environment. Schools that have more recess time report improved classroom behavior, increased focus, and less fidgeting among students (Wong). This is something that Dr. Rod Dierks, a Secondary Education Professor at Doane University, has seen in his many years of experience. He explained that recess time for students not only leads to benefits in school-related subjects but also is a good way of giving students the opportunities to build relationships and develop life skills and confidence that cannot be taught in a classroom (Dierks).
We are calling for a state policy that requires elementary schools to have mandatory recess time for students. This recess time should be outside whenever weather permits, and teachers should only be allowed to keep students inside to do work a maximum of two times a week. Instead of one or two long recess breaks, it would be more efficient for students to have around four 15-minute breaks a day. This policy will allow students to focus more in the classroom because they know that they have a short break coming up soon. It also gives them the opportunity to explore and exercise outside as much as possible.
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