When my son gets home from school and we discuss his day, the reward and success of the day depends greatly on one thing: recess. My active, kinesthetic boy doesn't tell me about math or reading or science first. He tells me all about recess: the football play he accomplished or the win in basketball knockout or whatever other fun was had on the recess court. He tells me about the friends he is making and how much he is enjoying his classmates.
Braxton loves numbers, so he will tell me about math. He will share with me his feelings about how Jack Will treated Auggie in the book they are reading in class. Science experiments delight him, and he loves telling me every detail. And my history buff shares how confident he is in his state memorization scores and did-you-know-facts from history. But out of all the amazing things he could tell me about his day, he chooses recess.
As a mommy and a teacher, I am passionate about recess for children. Daily recess. Here is why:
*Recess ignites the brain. Compare an inactive brain to a brain that has been walking, and you will see the difference. A child's brain needs movement. I am guilty of having the mentality that recess takes time out of instruction in the classroom, but actually having recess helps their brains function better when they are in the classroom.
*Recess increases the bond between teacher and students. Having a time every day to play and talk with your students is immeasurably valuable. The conversations I have with my students at recess range from light and fun to serious and healing. Also, I love to compliment them at recess, whether it be about the catch they just made or the jumps they just accomplished in jump rope. It's my way of saying, "I see you", and that sure means a lot to them.
*Recess strengthens classroom community. They play together, laugh together, compete together, and talk together. They learn that their classmates are human. That those they didn't know before aren't that bad. They start to see what their classmates have to offer and appreciate each other. Learning how to resolve conflict on the court is a huge life skill that is practiced during recess. Recess helps turn a classroom into a family.
*Recess sends students a message that impacts them while in the classroom. When the students see their teacher's commitment to recess, they grow in trust and appreciation for their teacher, which leads to motivation and effort. They learn that their teacher is giving to them, so they can give back to their teacher. They search for ways to say thank you to their teacher, and that can be through effort and motivation in the classroom.
*Recess increases school satisfaction and helps children want to come back.
*Recess gives them a brain break, which goes a long way.
*Recess helps students be active, which is healthy and beneficial to their bodies.
In our standards-driven, rigorous classrooms today, it is very easy to push recess off to accomplish our plans, but really they need it just as much as ever.