Kid’s Worst Nightmare
The worst nightmare for a child in elementary school is to hear his/her teacher say they will have no recess. Most children look forward to recess every day and some could even play everyday all day if they could. It is a time for them to let off all the stress that has built up from school work, and a time for them to be themselves. The council on Physical Education for Children agree that recess is a necessity, they state that “Recess is a time that gives children opportunities to engage in physical activity, to developing, healthy bodies which in return would create healthy minds and bodies that would be capable for learning” (COPEC, 2001). Recess is needed in all schools because it is healthy for all children, it improves social skills with one another, and it revitalizes the children.
Recess is an important part of child development in Elementary Schools because it allows the children to get the necessary exercises they need, which is healthy for all children. Due to some parents’ work loads, community violence, and safety issues some children are unable to play freely. As a result of these issues, children are leaning more towards watching television, playing video games and other inactive activities that endanger their health (Jarrett, 2003). Therefore, children are at high risk for early signs of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Recess is a way that Elementary schools help prevent health issues in some children’s lives. It also serves as a developmentally appropriate strategy for reducing stress. Olga S. Jarrett did a study on recess, she stated that “Recess allows children to be active which will make the child more assertive and able to focus on their class work when he/she starts on it” (Jarrett, 2003). Jarrett also study how recess works with the brain and she concludes that “Recess involves that valuable, unstructured downtime, that research says is crucial for recycling brain chemicals that formulate long term memory” (Jarrett, 2003). During play, children breathe in oxygen which helps fuel their brains, creating more connections between neurons. This helps their brain to process information, and leads to better grades. Recess also helps with the development of children’s social skills and in the long run, being an adult in society.
While children play, they are still learning; they are learning life-long skills that will help them as adults. Skills such as working together, resolving conflicts, motor skills, and cognitive abilities are being taught. The National Association for the Education of Young Children states that children who are permitted to play freely with peers develop skills for seeing things through another person’s point of view – – cooperating, helping, sharing, and solving problems (NAEYC, 1997). Communication skills are also being developed. They are learning how to make choices and make rules while playing games that they construct on their own (Jarrett, 2003). The choices that children make at recess will help the teachers see their social behaviors, leadership and pro-social behaviors. This will help the teachers intervene in situations involving aggression or social isolation. Children also learn their strengths and abilities during recess time.
Recess is a time to get away from school work and to rejuvenate the children. Jon Hull, a policy analyst with the Council of State Governments, believes children should have the opportunity to take a break just like adults do (MacPherson, 2002). Play helps children get their minds off work and it helps them to be less tense. It gives them time to scream and get all of the jitters out of their bodies. This will help them be calm and also be ready to learn upon return to the classroom. Jarrett came to the conclusion that recall is improved when learning is spaced out rather than being presented all at once (Jarrett, 2003). This means that a break would be beneficial in children’s learning process. Adults also need time off their busy schedules to clear their minds. For example, judges have a recess during a trial when they think people need a break. Recess also serves as a break for teachers. It gives them time to get away from the stressful job of teaching and have time to themselves. Therefore, adults should understand why this is important to all children.
As an Early childhood major, I believe that recess is necessary for elementary school children. Doctors have done a lot of research that proves that recess is necessary in schools. On the other hand many people believe that recess interferes with the learning process. Many schools are eliminating recess and some are being built without playgrounds. With all the research presented, they still believe that recess is a waste of time. In Jarrett’s article she states that the Bush administration believe that it is necessary to add more academics and structured learning even in the Head Start program, which is a program that is federally funded and for low income preschoolers (Jarrett, 2003). This means that there would be less time for recess or even the elimination of recess. In an article done by Jim Hightower he states that Mr. Canada, the superintendent of schools in Atlanta, says “We are intent on improving academic performance; you don’t do that by having kids hanging on the monkey bars” (Hightower, 2000). Elementary schools last about six hours a day. Do you really think that the children are learning everything that is presented to them without a break? Having no recess harms the children’s social development, their creativity to explore, and learn on their own. Being less tense while during school work makes it easier to learn and understand.
Recess should be allowed in all schools because it is healthy, it improves social skills, and it revitalizes the children. The National Association for the Education of Young Children states that play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit (NAEYC, 1997). Recess is a time where children can get exercise so that signs of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity will not have a chance to show up. Children would be more assertive in the classroom and able to better focus on their work. Even though they are playing, they are learning skills that will help them through life. Recess is a time for children to be stress free, a time to let all the built up energy out. Loosing recess would be a nightmare for all children and being an Early Childhood major, it would be a nightmare for me too!
Hightower, Jim (2000). Hightower: Schools without Recess. Retrieved on
November 17, 2004, from http://www.alternet.org/story/3397
Jarrett, Olga S. (2003). “Recess in Elementary School: What Does the Research
Say?” Retrieved on November 4, 2004, from
McPherson, Karen (2002). “Development experts say children suffer due to lack
of unstructured fun” Retrieved on November 9, 2004, from
National Association for the Education of Young Children (1997). “The Value of
Recess and Outdoor Play” Retrieved on November 9, 2004, from
National Association for Sport and Physical Education (2001).
“Recess in Elementary Schools”