Recess at Risk
By Ruth Hinkle, Spirit & Place Festival Intern
I’m swinging back and forth, higher and higher, chatting with my friends as we pass each other in midair. Other seventh graders are shooting hoops, playing foursquare, or just talking to each other. I’m not sure any of us knew how lucky we were to have recess in middle school. Given The Orchard School’s dedication to hands-on and experiential learning, it’s not that surprising. But most pre-teens in Central Indiana don’t get recess at all.
In our last post, Cassie Mills wrote about the The Importance of play at Workplace. So, it’s obvious that play should have a presence in schools, right? Apparently not! In fact, recess is in danger at schools across the nation. The Center on Education Policy tracks the effects of policy on schools nationwide. According to their 2008 research on No Child Left Behind, 20% of all schools reduce recess time alongside other classes. Worried about budget cuts and ever increasing pressure to pass standardized tests, too many educators have forgotten that playing is essential to development.
In addition to relieving stress, recess allows kids to play freely which helps them hone their social skills, teaches them how to solve problems on their own, and keeps them physically active. According to data gathered by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids have lost 12 hours of free play time per week since the 1970s. Kids today just don’t have the time. Between long school days and extracurricular activities, like dance class or soccer practice, kids have less time for unstructured play.
I’m glad my school recognized the importance of recess and outdoor play. But how do other Indy schools match up? Are your kids in danger of losing recess at their schools?