APPR, Rigors of Common Core and Testing Jeopardize Recess in New York Schools

Some parents have mentioned that recess in their district is being withheld as punishment. Reblogging my post on recess to challenge that practice as it is against child wellness.

Parents should double check your district wellness policy and approach Principal and BOE to request that this draconian practice discontinue immediately as it is against child wellness. I would ask that they update the child wellness policy to include a provision that recess cannot be withheld for punitive reasons or academic reasons aong other things.
As discussed in my blog post, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that recess is a necessary component of the school day and should NEVER be taken away as a punishment.

“Recess is at the heart of a vigorous debate over the role of schools in promoting the optimal development of the whole child. A growing trend toward reallocating time in school to accentuate the more academic subjects has put this important facet of a child’s school day at risk. Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom. But equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. Recess is unique from, and a complement to, physical education—not a substitute for it. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.”

Here is the study and report:

Moreover, NAEYC believes recess is critical during the school day for child wellness and health. Among other things, they opine: “We found no research to support administrators’ assumptions that test scores required by No Child Left Behind could be improved by keeping children in the classroom all day.”

In “Students Who Lose Recess Are the Ones Who Need It Most,” Jessica Lahey writes:

Despite overwhelming evidence that periods of unstructured play and social interaction are a crucial part of children’s cognitive, academic, physical and mental wellness, schools continue to take away recess privileges as a penalty for academic or behavioral transgressions. I’ve done it, many times. When students fail to hand in assignments or when a child acts up in class, I’ve taken their recess privileges hostage. I did it both as a way of punishing for bad behavior or as a way to carve out a few extra minutes of learning time in an otherwise packed day.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone. According to a Gallup poll commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 77 percent of school principals report that they withhold recess as punishment, even as they simultaneously sing the praises of recess as a factor in academic, cognitive, and social development. In that same report, eight in 10 principals acknowledge that time to play has a “positive impact on achievement,” and two-thirds of principals state that “students listen better after recess and are more focused in class.”

In response to this common disciplinary practice, as well as the overall declining rates and duration of recess in this country, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a policy statement, “The Crucial Role of Recess,” to set the record straight and make recommendations to schools. Their stance is unequivocal: “recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it.” In other words, schools should keep recess on the schedule, and teachers like me shouldn’t take it away.

Many agree that nixing recess is a bad way to punish kids:

US Play coalition supports AAP findings and advocates for recess in public schools worldwide noticing a disturbing decline in recess in the US:

“Safe and properly supervised recess offers children cognitive, physical, emotional and social benefits. It should be used as a complement to physical education classes, not a substitute, and whether it’s spent indoors or outdoors, recess should provide free, unstructured play or activity. The AAP recommends that recess should never be withheld as a punishment, as it serves as a fundamental component of development and social interaction that students may not receive in a more complex school environment. Study authors conclude that minimizing or eliminating recess can negatively affect academic achievement, as growing evidence links recess to improved physical health, social skills and cognitive development.”

But, I digress – could go on forever about this. If your district takes recess away from students as a form of punishment, you certainly have the basis to challenge your school on this issue. There is plenty of evidence to make them stop withholding recess as that draconian practice runs against chld wellness and is harmful particularly when recess is withheld punitive reasons.

Schools of Thought Hudson Valley, NY


Remember back in the day when, after sitting in the confines of a classroom for several hours, you were then able to go outside, run around and play at recess?  Many of us have fond memories of recess because it provided us an opportunity to simply relax, decompress from classroom learning and just …  Such a welcome break!

Indeed, recess is supposed to be the time of day set aside for elementary school students to take a break from their class work, engage in play with their peers, and take part in independent, unstructured activities.

It should be noted, when I speak of recess, I am not referring to physical education. Phys Ed is wholly separate and falls under the class of subjects that comprise of the school curriculum:

Physical education by definition in Section 135.4(1)(k) Instructional physical education means the required physical education program which has as its foundation…

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