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Elementary School Kids Elementary School Kids

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

Posted by on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:01 AM
  • 42 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.

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. 16, 2013 at 11:01 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Rbrown72707
by on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:22 AM
3 moms liked this

Our school has a 30 minute recess.  We are only supposed to have 20 minutes due to county guidelines. So, the first ten minutes are fair game.  Kid loses 5 or 10 minutes of recess and then goes to play for the rest of the time. They spend the recess lost time outside not inside.  There has been a lot of criticism with taking away recess.  However, what other options do teachers have?  We're not allowed to spank (not that I would, nor would i allow anyone else to touch my child).  Assigning extra homework to a kid who doesn't do his work anyhow is counterproductive.  Some kids are moved as far away from other kids in the classroom as possible.  Removing them from the classroom puts them further behind.  The behavioral systems and charts only work if there are consequences and rewards for performance.  Communication with parents is essential, but, as a parent and a teacher, it is so hard to discipline behavior that you didn't witness and don't know the entire story.  And, many parents don't even try.  So, with such limited options, tough decisions need to be made about how the school can get the behavior they desire in order for the students to be able to excel.  

cbear2
by Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:25 AM
2 moms liked this
My son found himself in alot of mischeif last year in first.grade. the school would nit give him consiquences n the behaviora continued and even worsened over.thw year. Being very defiant, refuse to evem.toucj his school work. They allowed him to sit.in the office n hang out, still go to.recess everytime. It was a load of s#%t! Recess is a privlage not a right.
I transfered hom to a new.school this yr. They dont welcome his behavior, or welcome him in the.office when hes done wrong, and.they will take away play time. Hes gotten in trouble twice n said.hes.done theyr not so nice about it. He RESPECTS his teacher, and the office staff n principle but dont think of.them az his buddies.
Cinsiquences are important, and.its.because of ppl that beleive.their.kids do no wrong, and should not have consiquences that screws the rest of us that accept our childrens challenges and want.to give.consiquences so.thwy learn early life has consiquences and u are rwzponsible.for ur actions.
mjande4
by Platinum Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:25 AM
8 moms liked this


Schools/teachers are damned if they do and damned if they don't.  If parents would actually do THEIR job by reinforcing behavior expectations at home, then this wouldn't even be an issue.

Quoting Rbrown72707:

Our school has a 30 minute recess.  We are only supposed to have 20 minutes due to county guidelines. So, the first ten minutes are fair game.  Kid loses 5 or 10 minutes of recess and then goes to play for the rest of the time. They spend the recess lost time outside not inside.  There has been a lot of criticism with taking away recess.  However, what other options do teachers have?  We're not allowed to spank (not that I would, nor would i allow anyone else to touch my child).  Assigning extra homework to a kid who doesn't do his work anyhow is counterproductive.  Some kids are moved as far away from other kids in the classroom as possible.  Removing them from the classroom puts them further behind.  The behavioral systems and charts only work if there are consequences and rewards for performance.  Communication with parents is essential, but, as a parent and a teacher, it is so hard to discipline behavior that you didn't witness and don't know the entire story.  And, many parents don't even try.  So, with such limited options, tough decisions need to be made about how the school can get the behavior they desire in order for the students to be able to excel.  



Buggy979
by Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:28 AM
1 mom liked this
I think that the rules of the teachers classroom are you lose recess time for bad behavior and parents need to support and accept this. The teacher is not telling you that the rules in your home are not right so stop. How are these kids going to learn that bad behavior had consequences. ??
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berlgirl1224
by Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:36 AM
My son just told me yesterday that the children who do not hand in their weekly reading logs (signed papers from parents saying they read all week and then a paragraph from the child about a book) lose Friday free time, which is an hour long! It is NOT that child's fault if their parent doesn't sign the paper nor is it that child's fault if the parent is a slacker at home and doesn't push the child to do the paper
My child is only seven! Yes, seven year olds should know by now to do the paper, they have a week to do it, but some children come from divorced homes, going from one to the other all week, busy schedules, have parents who don't care, etc. I find it ridiculous!
mjande4
by Platinum Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:39 AM
3 moms liked this


As much as that stinks for the kid, it just means that they will have to assume responsibility early on.  Those are simply excuses and frankly too many kids/parents have them. 

Quoting berlgirl1224:

My son just told me yesterday that the children who do not hand in their weekly reading logs (signed papers from parents saying they read all week and then a paragraph from the child about a book) lose Friday free time, which is an hour long! It is NOT that child's fault if their parent doesn't sign the paper nor is it that child's fault if the parent is a slacker at home and doesn't push the child to do the paper
My child is only seven! Yes, seven year olds should know by now to do the paper, they have a week to do it, but some children come from divorced homes, going from one to the other all week, busy schedules, have parents who don't care, etc. I find it ridiculous!



Cherish77
by Bronze Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:55 AM

I was kept in at recess a lot just for not doing homework.  Dds teacher doesn't do that, he just has the kids call their parents if they didn't do homework.

smarieljlee
by Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM

I have to agree. 

Quoting mjande4:


As much as that stinks for the kid, it just means that they will have to assume responsibility early on.  Those are simply excuses and frankly too many kids/parents have them. 

Quoting berlgirl1224:

My son just told me yesterday that the children who do not hand in their weekly reading logs (signed papers from parents saying they read all week and then a paragraph from the child about a book) lose Friday free time, which is an hour long! It is NOT that child's fault if their parent doesn't sign the paper nor is it that child's fault if the parent is a slacker at home and doesn't push the child to do the paper
My child is only seven! Yes, seven year olds should know by now to do the paper, they have a week to do it, but some children come from divorced homes, going from one to the other all week, busy schedules, have parents who don't care, etc. I find it ridiculous!




MommyO2-6631
by Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 11:59 AM
1 mom liked this
I agree that if my son is not doing what he's supposed to do in class he needs to sit and make up that work at recess. Maybe next time he'll realize he should do it the first time he's told instead of goofing off. Then he'll get recess with his peers.
stykir
by Member on Nov. 16, 2013 at 12:37 PM
2 moms liked this

i think it's crazy to take away the one break they have in their entire school day. I mean when i was a kid we had a standard 3 recesses until 5th grade. So MAYBE the teacher would take 10 min off one of those recesses and it wasn't too big a deal because you still got to run around most of the other times. Today's kids get ONE recess per day and I don't think they should be taking away their one time to be a kid for a little while.
I don't mind when my son has to miss 10 minutes to finish up some work he missed, but i think taking away the whole recess is a bad idea. 

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