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Should Teachers Stop Taking Recess Away From 'Bad' Kids?

Posted by on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:46 AM
  • 115 Replies

Teachers Need to Stop Taking Recess Away From 'Bad' Kids

by Jeanne Sager

recessMoms. Dads. Can we talk about discipline in schools for a minute? Specifically, the habit teachers have of punishing kids by trimming time off of recess? Have you ever heard of a discipline technique more likely to fail?

Let me just put a little disclaimer out there: I have an 8-year-old who attends public school. She has lost time off of her recess a few times, although not often. But this isn't just a problem in my house. Every time I turn around, another parent is telling me their kid is being kept inside while the rest of the wiggleworms go outside to run around and get all that energy out of their system.

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Is it any wonder some kids are "problems" in the classroom? The one time of the day when children are actually allowed to be up out of their seats, and their teachers are saying, "Uh, uh, no way, we're going to make you sit there even longer ... oh, and we expect you to deal with it."

The problem with this? Ya know, beyond common sense?

Experts have practically been screaming their lungs out for the past few years, trying to be heard by school districts about the benefits of downtime for kids even as those same school districts whittle away at the time kids get to spend outside a classroom. Programs like No Child Left Untested, er, No Child Left Behind, have put pressure on the districts to maximize academic time, and the loser is the kids. On average, today's kids get only 26 minutes of recess per day, and that includes lunchtime (when their butts are required to be in seats, and in many schools socialization is limited). Some schools have even gotten rid of recess entirely.

Unfortunately for the schools -- and for our kids -- that's not enough. Kids' activity has been intrinsically linked to their behavior.

When researchers asked teachers to rate the behavior of third graders, the kids who received at least 15 minutes of daily recess scored better than those who didn’t get recess. As Dr. Romina M. Barros of Albert Einstein College of Medicine told the New York Times when their study of recess was released back in 2009:

Our brains can concentrate and pay attention for 45 to 60 minutes, and in kids it’s even less. For them to be able to acquire all the academic skills we want them to learn, they need a break to go out and release the energy and play and be social.

Put it that way, and taking away a kid's recess is essentially setting them up to fail. It creates a vicious cycle whereby a rowdy kid misbehaves, loses recess, and then misbehaves again because they haven't gotten that break they need to be able to concentrate and pay attention.

And lest you say I'm being way too kid-centric here (shudder), the researchers will tell you that not only is recess better for the kids; it's better for the teachers too. One study released earlier this year by researchers at Stanford University actually showed that schools that put a focus on giving kids a "better" more worthwhile recess experience actually got more academic time out of the kids because the children were ready to learn.

So my question: when are the schools going to recognize this and do something about it?

I'm not anti-discipline. Kids need to be held accountable for their actions if they're ever going to learn. But then again, if kids are ever going to learn, they need a system that isn't setting them up for failure.

Do your kids lose time off of recess for misbehavior? What do you think should be done instead?

by on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:46 AM
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Replies (1-10):
stephensmommy06
by on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:47 AM

they dont have recess at my sons school anyways...

bleumonster
by Ruby Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:48 AM
3 moms liked this
Well it worked for me lol. I didn't want to lose recess. Worked for my kids too.
USMCWifey2011
by Silver Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:53 AM
This!.. it gets results

Quoting bleumonster:

Well it worked for me lol. I didn't want to lose recess. Worked for my kids too.
CPatt0708
by Bronze Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:55 AM
2 moms liked this

 I agree, it works.  It worked for me when I was that age because I wanted to go outside so bad...

CafeMom Tickers
Mtdewwid
by Silver Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:56 AM
3 moms liked this
I understand the point here but what else can a teacher do for "punishment"?
ramita
by Gold Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:57 AM
1 mom liked this
It works for our kids and it mostly worked for kids when I was in school. My kids school also has a reward system for good behavior which I think helps even more.
silverdawn99
by Ruby Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM
This recess is a time to have fun with your friends

Quoting bleumonster:

Well it worked for me lol. I didn't want to lose recess. Worked for my kids too.
Yogamom08
by on Nov. 18, 2013 at 9:59 AM
1 mom liked this
They have a time out chair in my son's classroom. Occasionally, he loses his recess. It's a good motivator for him, and I don't think it contributes to his bad behavior. What else are they supposed to do? Spank him?
OneAllergicMama
by Platinum Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Once in awhile it's fine but repeatedly, no.  We went through this last year with DS2 which I am sure in the long run made the teacher's life more miserable.  DS2 is not a bad child, the school situation was just a bad fit for him. 

KnittinMama
by Silver Member on Nov. 18, 2013 at 10:01 AM
5 moms liked this
My oldest is first grade. They get three warnings and then they run a lap ariund the gym. I like it myself. Mine is not the sit pretty girl. If she is acting up enough to get three warnings its because she has a lot of pent up energy to let out. So a lap around the gym is much more useful than sitting in time out alone where she can think of gods know what else to get herself in trouble.
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