.RECESS IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME by Meg Rosker.“When my children come to school I want their bottoms in chairs, learning. When they come home, I’ll let them play.”
These words were spoken to me at a recent school meeting by a woman who is a parent AND a public school teacher. I had approached our neighborhood elementary school about re-instating recess into the daily schedule. Right now, only kindergarteners get 30 minutes a day of free time. By first grade, it’s over.
Nonetheless, another teacher pointed to her watch with annoyance and emphasized that, “We just don’t have time for this.” After I wrote a letter to the editor in our local paper about the desperate need for recess, the school principal accused me of defaming the school and attacking the teachers Then there was the long list of excuses of why recess doesn’t work: “There are too many children. We can’t have proper supervision.” “Children get hurt at recess.” “Most write-ups occur during recess and we don’t want that kind of trouble. It takes away from learning time.”
And that was just the beginning. As my friend Michelle and I approached parents to sign a petition in favor of recess, countless said things like, “I’m sure there is a good reason they don’t have it.” Or, “I know someone on the school board and I know they would tell me not to signthat.”
Seriously, does anyone think for themselves anymore? Does anyone listen to that parental intuition that tells us what is best for our children? There is no part of me that thinks allowing children to sit inside for six hours a day is okay.
But the question I left that meeting with was this: What in the world do these people think their children are going to be up against in the coming years, that to allow them even a half an hour of play during the school day could lead to their ultimate demise?
We are trying to protect our children from a danger we can’t even name!
Allowing this fear to grow will sicken our kids. In fact, Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play, determined that play is an absolute necessity in positive socialization. You can read more about it in his book, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul.
Once upon a little boy and a little girl were not allowed to go outside. They had to stay inside and study all day. They never got to go to the playground or dig in the sandbox. They didn’t tie clover necklaces or learn how to play touch football. Instead they studied and got very, very smart.
Don’t you wonder what kind of people they will be? — M.R.
Yup. But I’d rather we don’t have to find out. Save recess! — L.