SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

No Recess? Give Me a Break!

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RecessYikes! No recess in all elementary schools in East Providence, Rhode Island? They can’t be serious!

This is the new directive teachers and parents are facing as we prepare for a new school year. As of September 8, 2010 school recess has been essentially eliminated in the city. No chance for young children to have any unstructured time to play. No chance for a daily dose of sunshine and fresh air. No chance for children to "get a break" from the rigors of academics.

Denying a child 10-15 minutes of free play time goes against all connections between physical and mental well-being.

Can any adult imagine their workday with no time to get a coffee, check e-mail, or make a call? No "unstructured time" at all in their workday? Why would any adult, who would not accept that for themselves, think it would be acceptable for a child?

The East Providence school administration is increasing Physical Education times, to comply with state law. This school year the children will get two fifty-minute periods of Phys. Ed., twice a week. All of this time is very structured. What will happen on those other three days when there is no Phys. Ed.? Their rational is that increased Physical Education time, as well as a partnership with the local YMCA to provide in-class programs will be enough.

So much of carefree childhood has already been robbed from our children. It is hard to understand why school administrators are taking away more. Isn’t it time to stand up and ask, "When are the needs of our school children going to be put first?"

I would love to hear parent’s thoughts and ideas concerning the importance of recess. Please leave your comments below.



#12 Jeff Wise 2011-03-07 17:07
You're right, this is spreading all across the country and it is crazy! Not only are they cutting back on recess but they are also banning tag and other games because it's "mean".

Parents need to combat this by spending extra quality time with their children doing fun kids exercises each day whether it's indoors or outdoors.
#11 Anonymous 2010-10-12 18:22
This issue has been spread to many cities. My school has a rather unfortunate schedule, which involves a six and a half hour day. Each class runs for 55 minutes where children are expected to sit still and listen...
Then they have 5 minutes to go to a classroom, which is often on the different side of the school. No break. One break for lunch runs only 30 minutes, ten of which are spent moving back and forth. Students are not getting enough nutrition because they are using the 20 minutes for the recess they should rightly have.
The options for lunch at the school are disgustingly unhealthy, with pizza and tater tots making the top of the list every day.

I am fed up with the American Education System.
#10 carol haskins 2010-10-11 14:41
I have been teaching for over 20 years. Kids need to be kids and have time to play and socialize. Recess is vital and after recess kids return to the classroom refreshed and ready to learn. I also disagree with the "Laying down the Law" article article. Mr Obama your kids need a break to. What about play time and excerise. Limit TV time, of course, and set a 1 hour homework time. Sometimes more homework time is necessary but don't be crazy. Kids need time to be kids and we should not take this away from them. Kids do much better with time to relax and unwind after school. So do adults.
#9 sarah 2010-09-06 05:01
I was so shocked to see this online yesterday. How obsurd to remove such a vital part of a childs day, most especially considering no adults comply to such rigorous schedules. These are children and we continually move our education system toward something so obscene that it is scary. We are fighting our district in TX after they alowed principals to take half our recess for SILENT READING, really, pull the kids off the playground for more reading, and silent reading at that, in no time at all we will have little robots wondering the halls with a hallow look in their eyes wondering what community and social life is at all. All scientific research show how beneficial activity is to the brain, and further research shows how a period of rest from the stress in the classroom helps kids get back on tract and focus, I am so appalled over this whole issue, I saw the interview and I cant even think the superindentent even asnwered the questions with rationale. Why is the YMCA coming in during the school day, after school or before school, but why during the day? UGH, makes my stomach turn - kids need to be kids, even prisoners get an hour of recreation a day!
#8 Julianne 2010-09-01 17:56
And then they wonder why we have obese, overweight, aggressive kids who cant sit still in the clasroom. PHYS ED is NOT RECESS!
#7 Patti 2010-08-25 16:00
Some teachers have gotten around ridiculous "no recess" mandates by calling it "wiggle time," and just plain taking their kids out to play anyway.
#6 Susan 2010-08-20 17:06
Are all communites going to need to eliminate recess to comply with state law too? How ridiculous is this?
#5 Lynn 2010-08-20 01:17
This was a decision made behind closed doors without any input from parents, children, teachers, taxpayers, professionals or doctors. In fact, I very highly doubt that anyone involved had any credentials in early childhood development at all. It's so upsetting and I just hope it's something we can reverse ASAP!
#4 Susanne 2010-08-20 00:54
The decision to eliminate recess is obviously a poorly thought out decision that temporarily solves a noncompliance issue. As a teacher, I can't even begin to imagine students in my class not having one moment during the day, with the exception of lunch, to experience some unstructured time. Children need this time to learn to be flexible problem solvers and to learn different strategies to navigate social interactions.

How sad that what is truly best for children, backed by research should be so thoughtlessly surpassed.
#3 Carol 2010-08-19 20:36
Children ofttime find their friendships in a schoolyard recess, maybe having the only time to play in an otherwise structured day, with school buses and daycare and after school practices, lessons or home taking up the rest.
I believe this is an ill informed idea, and the children being denied an opportunity to relax and just be children for awhile. Play is a child's work, or should be, for this little while.

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?