Make Recess a requirement in all preschool/elementary school districts

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The following articles contain information on the benefits and importance of recess on children's development in each of the following domains: Physical, Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Development.

Recognizing The Benefits of Recess

Recess and The Importance of Play

Recess Makes Kids Smarter 

The Problem:

            I want recess to become a requirement in all preschool/elementary school districts. The main issue is that recess is being cut back and eliminated in many school districts in the United States to include more time for testing procedures, demanding curriculum, to focus on increasing test scores and performance in the classroom. The problem with this is that children are becoming less attentive in class and scores have not been improving at all due to these decisions by schools and policy makers. I want to be able to make it so that all children of all ages in preschool and elementary school can have access to frequent periods of play throughout the day daily for at least a total of 45 minutes per day so that children can grow and develop into healthy active learners in classrooms.

Upon further research on this issue, I have found that when recess is taken away or cut back, it hinders children's growth and development. This not only affects growth and development, but also children’s attentiveness and behavior in classrooms. According to the NAECS/SDE, children who receive a period of recess show more attentiveness in class, academic tasks, and reduced disruptive behavior in school (Bogden & Vega-Matos, 2000), therefore it is a critical component to education. This is significant because this component is being taken away from children, making it increasingly more difficult to improve performance in school. It is important that we allow enough time for recess for children to develop critical skills such as cooperating, sharing, and solving problems. Children who participate in recess often show improved performance and their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills develop significantly. These skills may include, but are not limited to, the following: cooperation, sharing, language, conflict resolution, language, self-regulation, and physical skills such as running, climbing, jumping, catching, balancing, etc. "Recess is a necessary break in the day for optimizing a child's social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development,"(Murry. & Ramstetter, 2017, p. 18). Families are also being affected by this because their children aren’t getting the resources they need to succeed in school. Children are coming home stressed, frustrated, and tired from sitting all day in the classroom because their recess is being cut back. Communities are being affected because they become associated with higher crime rates, vandalism, and higher gang activity because of underperforming school districts and neighborhoods. This connects to reduced recess in schools because children who have built up excess amount of energy leave school without being able to exhort that energy, typically ending up in a lot of mischief outside school grounds when they finally release that built tension. Protests and rallies can erupt in school districts from concerned parents, teachers, and staff as a result of recess being taken away from children. The people affected most from this issue are those who are underperforming, have lower test scores, underrepresented, under resourced, and face inequity in education. These people are commonly the ones who come from Hispanic/Latino, and Black/African American families from low economic backgrounds.

I want daily recess to become a requirement for all preschool/elementary school districts so that all children can develop skills essential for a successful education. Children of all ages in preschool/elementary school should have access to three periods (15 minutes each) for free play or at least one period of recess totaling at least 45 minutes in the day for 5 days a week (Mon-Fri).

My target audience is the Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education (Richard Carranza) who is the chairperson of the New York City Board of Education and leader of the Department of Education and holds most of the administrative power in New York City Public Schools. He has the power to make decisions and change current policies in schools. I want to work to influence his decisions to make recess a requirement across all school districts and make more time for recess so that children can be more physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively engaged in their school learning environment.

Article Summary- Recess and the Importance of Play- A Position Statement on Young Children and Recess

National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education, (2001). Recess and the Importance of Play. A Position Statement on Young Children and Recess. Opinion Papers, p. 2-15.

            Recess is an important part of early childhood education and all children should have access to participate in frequent periods of free play with peers. The elimination of recess has started to become a trend in the united states and it is affecting many school districts due to more investment in time focusing on student testing procedures and academic subjects which is counterproductive to closing the achievement gap and improving performance in schools. With the increasing demands on curriculum, and putting more focus on testing to improve achievement, school administrators have determined that recess would be the easiest part of the daily schedule to eliminate to put more time in these practices.

            Recess is beneficial to children because it facilitates their attention in performing academic tasks, significantly reduces disruptive behavior in the classroom, and allows for children to attain develop skills across all developmental domains, thus making recess an essential part of classroom management, serving as a useful tactic for behavior guidance, and a purposeful time for children to develop.  Educators, policy makers, and parents should advocate and support policies that require recess to be part of the curriculum in schools and support the research on the effects of recess on the developmental domains and academic achievement. Advocates should develop policies and resources to support an awareness of the importance of recess and the effect it has on young children.

            Schools are being affected due to recess being cut back because of investing time into student testing procedures and academic subjects which is counterproductive to closing the achievement gap and improving performance in schools. The author is for recess. The author says, Recess is an essential component of education and that preschool and elementary school children must have the opportunity to participate in regular periods of active, free play with peers (National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education, 2001). The authors purpose is to inform and bring awareness of the importance of recess and active free play in the development of the young child and to inform about the effects of recess on each of the developmental domains of a child. I selected this source because it was informative and presents a clear message to push for change. It contained a lot of information about the background and history of recess and why it is important to acknowledge in the present day. This source also had good references like the NAEYC and NAECS/SDE and contained good research to support its data. After reading this article I learned that many schools in the United States are suffering from recess being cut back and eliminated from the daily schedule in schools due to more focus on improving test scores and covering a more demanding curriculum in hopes to improve academic achievement.

 

Advocacy Project Article Summary- Recess Benefits

 Murray, R. & Ramstetter, C. (2017). Recognizing the Benefits of Recess. Time To Play, 17-23.

 

Recess is a necessary break and stress reliever for children that allows them to communicate, cooperate, and negotiate conflict with each other, allowing them to work on problem solving which promotes and builds their social-emotional competence; thus, resulting in improved attentiveness in cognition and learning (Murray & Ramstetter, 2017). Play is important for children because it develops children's social/emotional/physical/cognitive/and language skills, thus the essential part of education.

Recess and other extracurricular activities are being cut back or reduced due to the recent effects of the No Child Left Behind Act. The withdrawal of recess in school programs are hindering children’s health benefits and is proven not to be an effective method of completing tasks or promoting positive behavior. Students who have access to more daily recess periods of at least 15 minutes or more are associated with better class behavior ratings from teachers (Murray & Ramstetter 2017).

Advocates should spread information about the benefits of recess to policy makers, elected officials in school councils, and parent teacher-groups to emphasize the importance of recess, as well as increase funding in playgrounds and recess equipment to create a better environment for children to be more physically and cognitively engaged. Advocates can also promote recess by advocating for districts and school policies that require or recommend some recess time on a daily basis for children.

In summary, with the No Child Left Behind Act in place, parent teacher-groups and advocates can emphasize the importance of recess and spread information about the benefits to the school board and elected officials to increase more time and make recess a requirement to allow children to develop and attain critical skills necessary for cognition and learning. The authors main position is that children should have more access to recess time in schools because they allow for children to thrive in different areas of development and benefit education. The authors overall purpose is to inform and explain what recess is, its benefits, and what advocates can do to initiate change. The author believes that schools should allow students to experience recess periods daily and allow enough time for children to mentally decompress. I selected this research source because it is a recent article and it contains information about what recess is and why it is important for people to know about the benefits that come with it. What I learned from this article is that recess serves as a break and mental stress reliever for children and helps increasing attentiveness and improved cognition and learning in classrooms.

 

Advocacy Project Article Summary- Recess Makes Kids Smarter

Article: Adams, C. (2018). Recess Makes Kids Smarter. Scholastic

 

 Children need recess because it teaches them how to socialize amongst other groups and helps them to focus better in the classroom, but recess in its current state is being held back and cut off across multiple schools in the country mainly because schools under pressure are putting more time into core instructional focus and standardized testing procedures. Children who are less attentive in class and have trouble concentrating are the ones who will benefit most from recess and they are more likely to be denied it because of behavior/uncompleted tasks in class.

Recess counteracts the negative issues children are facing in classrooms and benefit in in cognitive, social-emotional, and physical ways which allows them to be more attentive, cognitively engaged, and able to negotiate and develop better communication skills to resolve conflicts and learn important leadership skills such as taking turns. The main goal in states is to mandate legislations and policies so that recess cannot reduced or removed from schools.

Recess is a motivator for children and makes students more productive in the classroom environment. Advocates can educate school board members on the latest research and data that supports the benefits of having recess for children. Supporters can find out if there is a certain protocol for making decisions and push for policies that are enforceable. It is critical that children have an inviting area for play and engagement. We should ensure that there is adequate adult supervision and put more funding into more spaces and facilities to restore access to recess and improve equipment available to children.

Overall, recess is necessary for children because it promotes socialization amongst other groups, is an essential part to development, and positively impacts student performance in classrooms, allowing them to be more attentive and productive in class. The author is for recess and believes that children should have more access to recess time in schools. The authors purpose is to inform people of the benefits of recess, and to bring awareness of the impact that schools are facing due to recess being cut back. I selected this research source because it comes from scholastic and it was informative. The article contained information about the benefits of recess and how it is essential to children’s development. I learned a great deal of information after reading this article. I learned important advocacy steps from this article. This is significant because it will help me be a better advocate for children as an educator.

Similarities/Differences:

The article from the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education is similar to the other two articles in that it promotes the same ideology to readers about the importance of recess and why it is beneficial to child development. This article was slightly different because it focused more on schools under pressure from low academic achievement and test scores. This article is saying that recess is the solution to help improve the situation in school districts that are suffering from low performance. The article “Time to Play: Recognizing the Benefits of Recess” by Murray & Ramstetter is similar to the article “Recess and The Importance of Play” by the NAECS/SDE. They both have the same themes and position. Both articles discussed the importance of recess and how it’s beneficial to child development in different aspects such as physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills. This is slightly different from the “Recess Makes Kids Smarter” article by Adams. Adams has a different position which is that children should have more recess time in schools. However, Adams also mentioned the importance and benefits of recess time but isn’t the main idea of the article. They are a little bit intertwined because they both emphasized having recess accessible to all children. The article by Adams “Recess Makes Kids Smarter” is relatively similar to the others in that they all discuss the benefits of recess and why it’s important. This article is similar to the benefits of recess article by Murray and Ramstetter in that it has an advocacy message for people to support recess in schools.

Small action plan:    

To make Richard Carranza aware that there isn’t enough recess time, I will create a petition for change on a webpage and have teachers, families, children, principals and school superintendents sign it. I will share my project with people from different media outlets and promote it by posting it on several social media and networking sites. I will use resources from my task force team to assist me in getting get the word out about recess for all. I will also have a rally outside Tweed Courthouse with a large audience and alert the news media that we are protesting for 45 minutes of play time for kids in schools citywide. To get the message out, teachers, families, children, and school workers can hold speeches and make videos about there not being enough time for recess in schools. The webpage will include articles about recess with some of the latest data collected by researchers from recent articles and published journals that show that recess has been being cut back and eliminated in most of the public schools to put more time on standardized testing procedures and focusing on intensive curriculum. The research and data will include benefits of recess on child development and learning, and the negative consequences that may ensue from being withdrawn from school programs. Also, I will include information about city council meetings from blogs and websites onto social media that are open to the public that anyone can attend to try and help raise awareness about the issue to try and help out to reinstate recess and extend longer periods of play to try to improve educational performance in classrooms. “The data will be presented to Carranza after getting enough signatures needed to make sure it gets reviewed in front of the appropriate policy experts to and issue an official response” (Taraza, 2018, p.11). I’ll let Carranza know recess is an issue by setting up a meeting with him through writing and emails and present the data I’ve gathered from research as well as using my task force as a support group in assisting me to get my message out to him and the public. I will get the information to him with the use of my task force, in which teachers, parent’s, families, children, and principals can write through emails, letters, create videos, and holding rally’s outside his office speaking to him about the issue.

 

 

Large action plan:

Me and Carranza would work together to implement my intervention to allow 45 minutes of play. Together, Carranza and I will write a policy to have 45 minutes of play in ECE programs, meet with district superintendents to introduce the policy, and develop a task force that will help principals reorganize the school day to incorporate 45 minutes of recess daily.  Our task force will consist of parents, teachers, principals, school leaders, and members of the community will work together to implement my intervention by taking on different roles. School superintendents, principals, and teachers can work together to develop how the policy will be introduced in schools citywide and present it to Richard Carranza at our meeting. Teachers can also write letters to Richard Carranza telling them how they are personally affected by recess being eliminated and invite parents to attend information sessions about the importance of recess and why reducing time for recess could possibly be harmful to their child’s education. Children will create videos talking about having their recess eliminated and wear Shirts and signs that say, “We love recess.” Law makers will make a proclamation for a day for play. Altogether, this could work to create new policies on a citywide level that allows for extended amounts of recess time so that children can get at least 45 minutes a day.

My objective is to spread information about the importance by advertising my campaign on change.org.  Stakeholders such as policy makers, school board members, and elected local and state officials will play a role in passing legislations mandating requirements for recess, As aforementioned previously, our taskforce will be the ones assisting in making this happen by playing their part in the operation to pass these new legislations and make changes to the rules and policies in schools that will allow for recess to become accessible to all children become a requirement in preschools/elementary school districts. The chancellor holds most of the administrative power in New York City Public Schools. With this in mind, our taskforce can only try to influence stakeholder’s decisions to these make changes happen. During this process, children can wear “We want Recess” T-Shirts to the rally outside the Tweed Courthouse. The community can help develop and fund social media campaigns to get the attention of everyone. Families will sign the petition. Teacher’s will be a part of the movement outside the Tweed Courthouse and testify at the rally. Lastly, elected officials and law makers can declare a day for play in schools for all children where they just do nothing but enjoy free recess. We can only make this happen if we stick together, market the campaign, and play our roles in making recess a requirement so that we can get 45 minutes in the schedule for recess time.

Commentary:           

Recess is being eliminated and cut back in public schools and as a result, is harming children’s development and education. Schools are cutting back on recess because they are putting more emphasis on testing procedures, improving scores, and teaching a more demanding curriculum. Studies have shown that these practices are not beneficial to increasing academic performance nor is it helpful in closing the achievement gaps in schools. Children are becoming more stressed, tired, and less attentive in class because they no longer have access for frequent play time and recess or their time has been shortened due to the effects of the No Child Left Behind Act cramming more time into the schedule for testing procedures. This issue is personally meaningful to me because not only are children’s education being harmed but also their growth and development is being limited. Recess allows for children to develop critical skills such as cooperating, sharing, and solving problems. Children who participate in recess often show improved performance and their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive skills develop significantly. Without recess, children are missing out on opportunities to develop social, physical, cognitive, and language skills that are essential to development and learning. During recess children learn critical life skills that are not taught in the classroom. This topic impacts me as an early childhood educator because the children who will be coming into my classroom will not have the resources they need to be able to perform well in class because it is being taken away from them.

Advocacy message script:

Mr. Carranza, there is a major issue impacting young children today in New York City’s Public Schools. Children’s freedom is being taken away from them due to schools cutting back on their recess time to include more time for testing, and more emphasis on core subjects. The problem is that children’s growth, development, and education is being hindered due to these decisions by schools and policy makers. Data collected from one of the most reliable sources for children’s early education and development (The NAEYC) has shown that recess and play has a large impact on children’s learning, growth and development.

Data/Facts:

The value of school recess and outdoor play

National Association for the Education of Young Children 1997

 1. Play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit. Until at least the age of nine, children's learning occurs best when the whole self is involved.

 2. Play reduces the tension that often comes with having to achieve or needing to learn. In play, adults do not interfere and children relax.

3. Children express and work out emotional aspects of everyday experiences through unstructured play.

4. Children permitted to play freely with peers develop skills for seeing things through another person's point of view--cooperating, helping, sharing, and solving problems.

 5. The development of children's perceptual abilities may suffer when so much of their experience is through television, computers, books, worksheets, and media that require only two senses. The senses of smell, touch, and taste, and the sense of motion through space are powerful modes of learning.

6. Children who are less restricted in their access to the outdoors gain competence in moving through the larger world. Developmentally, they should gain the ability to navigate their immediate environs (in safety) and lay the foundation for the courage that will enable them eventually to lead their own lives.

What the numbers say?:

National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education, (2001). Recess and the Importance of Play. A Position Statement on Young Children and Recess. Opinion Papers, p. 4

Recess provides young children with opportunities to move and participate in physical activities. Physical movement is essential for healthy growth and development. Recent surveys have discovered that 40% of our young children have significant cardiac risk factors including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and an inactive life style. Many children are not getting enough exercise to develop healthy hearts and lungs. Another cause for concern is obesity. In October, 1999, the Agriculture Department released a report that revealed a record 10 million American children or one in five are overweight, and that a record 8% of the children are already overweight by preschool age.

It is critical that we allow time for recess for children to develop important skills that are essential to development and their education. I want a policy to be made that allows for 45 minutes of play/recess time for children in schools citywide. Families are being affected by the cutback of recess because their children aren’t getting the resources they need to succeed in school. Communities are being affected because school districts are underperforming as a result of recess being eliminated from daily schedules in most schools. Intervention is needed at the earliest time possible which is now, to prevent further negative effects of children’s education and development being harmed. Our children are missing out on opportunities to develop social, physical, cognitive, and language skills that are essential to development and learning. There is no improvement in education without recess. Recess is the only solution to seeing some positive changes in performance in class and behavior. If we want to see a change in better performance in schools, then we must make recess a requirement and allow for frequent times of play in the day. I am reaching out to you as a concerned teacher to help join me and make the change we want to see in our schools and mitigate the issues children are facing in education. I would like for you to join me in my fight to make education great again. I would like to meet with you to implement this policy. Then we can get with school superintendents from different districts discuss how we will roll out this policy. To make sure this policy is followed, we will have people to come in schools and check whether or not children’s needs are being met with enough time for play and recess. Together with your influential power, we can assemble a joint taskforce of teachers, parents, principals, and children to get stakeholders to help out by signing the petition to extend more time for play in the schedule. Everyone must do their part in assisting to bring awareness. Together, we can use this project to help meet our goal to raise awareness so that we can make recess a requirement in all preschool/elementary school districts. We will be helping children and improving the education system by making this a reality. I need your help in revolutionizing education into a better state than when we once found it. Save education and make recess a requirement and for all preschool/elementary schools!

References

Adams, C. (2018). Recess Makes Kids Smarter. Scholastic

Murray, R. & Ramstetter, C. (2017). Recognizing the Benefits of Recess. Time To Play, 17-23.

National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education, (2001). Recess and the Importance of Play. A Position Statement on Young Children and Recess. Opinion Papers, p. 2-15.



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