Recess Is Just as Important as Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic

recessSome parents in Florida are fighting for their children’s right to recess as school officials attempt to whittle down their kids’ time spent outside. As WHNT News reports, 100 out of 123 elementary schools in Orange County have some recess time a couple times a week. Parents want their kids to experience recess daily because DUH but teachers are saying they don’t have enough time to teach the essential standards.

I can’t even believe kids aren’t getting recess daily! When I was growing up we had recess three times a day. Morning break, lunch, and afternoon and sometimes it was all I could do to last until I could get outside and run around. But apparently in Florida students’ performances on mandatory standardized tests often dictate teachers’ pay and sometimes even their jobs. So a lot of teachers are using time that used to be for recess to teach.

As school officials explain:

“Because so much of the money is tied to the schools’ scores and their grades, everybody’s pressured,” Diana Moore, president of the Orange Count Classroom Teachers Association, told TODAY.

“We will come to a place in Florida and probably nationally where we have to admit that we really don’t have enough minutes in the day to get everything done that we’d like to see accomplished for our children,” Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins echoes.

Florida law states that districts must provide 900 instructional hours throughout the school year — but whether or not they allow kids to enjoy recess is a school board decision. Which means that for schools to make sure they meet all requirements, they are sometimes forced to make a decision that adheres to guidelines, but doesn’t necessarily benefit the kids.

Mom of twins, Angela Browning, tells TODAY that schools are fluctuating between holding zero to 30 minutes of recess per day. “Five year olds not getting recess is nothing short of abuse.” Browning adds that her kids, who are in the second grade, have ADHD and desperately need the breaks.

I absolutely agree. Recess is crucial for all kids. Not only is it a much-needed break to recharge developing brains, but it’s a chance for kids to learn social skills that are just as — if not more — important than diagramming a sentence.

Heather Mellet, mom of two in the Orange County school district, wholeheartedly agrees. “At the end of the day, who cares if you have straight A’s and you get a scholarship to Harvard if you’re socially inept?” She tells TODAY. It seems most parents agree. A Poll conducted by TODAY Parents shows parents are overwhelmingly in favor of recess with nearly 26,000 votes for “yes” and just 278 “no” votes. I know that I certainly can’t work a full day without taking small breaks, even if it’s just to walk around the building in which I work, so how can we expect our children to sit through an entire school day with minimal to no recess to allow them to recharge?

Image courtesy of ThinkStock


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