Denise Hills, a geologist, and her husband, a college geology professor, live in Tuscaloosa, AL with their two children, a kindergartner and a two-year-old. The kindergartner, who goes to the local public school, gets no recess. Denise recently wrote the following letter to the school and told me that, “after tackling recess, I plan on going after the homework policy. Right now, we have a very understanding teacher so it hasn’t been much of an immediate issue. I expect that to change next year, so am gearing up for that.” So far, Denise hasn’t heard back from the school.
My Kindergartner Needs Recess
by Denise Hills
Dear Principal/School Board,
My son is in kindergarten at School. It has come to my attention that they have no recess period during the day. While I understand that, according to standards, they are only required to have PE OR recess everyday, I want to urge you to reconsider reinstating a recess period in addition to PE.
Recess (unstructured time) is important for many reasons. Childhood obesity rates are on the rise, and more physical movement during the day could help reduce that. Recess holds other physical, social, and even academic benefits for children.
Physical activity and UNSTRUCTURED play time not only provides physical health benefits but mental health benefits as well. As an adult often feels emotionally more balanced after exercise, children feel the same. Also, recess gives children an outlet for their natural urge for exuberant play. With an allowed time for this, children are generally calmer and more focused on their academics in the classroom.
Recess also allows for development of interpersonal skills that lead to cooperating, helping, sharing, and problem solving, including conflict resolution. These are not things that just magically appear in children as they get older; they need to learn them through unstructured play. By eliminating recess, we eliminate a vital aspect of our children’s social development.
I understand that recess has been eliminated to make more time for “academics.” However, studies have shown that kids who have recess have higher learning and test scores. Physical exercise enhances brain function. Students who spend more of their school day engaging in physical activity perform better academically than those who spend more time in instruction.
Recess has far too many benefits to be considered optional. I urge you to reconsider your standards, instituting both a PE and recess requirement for younger grades.
For more information please read the enclosed article.