Maine Receives a Failing Grade When it Comes to Recess
I grew up in a small town and attended a school that was kindergarten through 8th grade. Recess was always the highlight of the day. It was a nice break in the middle of the seemingly long school day to get out and have a little fun.
I remember when the movie Titanic came out and we would play Titanic on the playground. It was a long wooden playground with a wiggly bridge and a tower with a big red slide. With Rose being part of my name I obviously pretended to be Rose. I’d hold a friend’s hand at the top of the slide and then let them go as they slid down the slide like Jack sinking into the ocean.
Morbid? Kind of. Fun? Absolutely.
I remember getting into 6th grade. Finally, junior high! And learning that because of the 8th graders that graduated before I entered junior high, we would no longer get recess. Apparently those 8th graders, heaven forbid, didn’t take that time to really play. Just lay around. And the school then decided that junior high kids didn’t need recess. They needed to read more.
I remember even then thinking that was absurd and writing an essay on it. It didn’t change anything but made me feel slightly better.
The Psychology Behind Recess
Time dove into this topic several years ago and noted a study from The American Academy of Pediatrics that suggested kids get an hour of “moderate to vigorous activity per day” and that the benefits of recess exceeded physical play but also social, emotional, and cognitive development.
Time also noted another study that looked specifically at 8 and 9-year-olds saying that those that had at least one recess that lasted at least 15 minutes had better behavior in the classroom.
It seems like any parent would agree with that. How often do parents or those just around kids see them running around and playing and say things like, “Well, they’ll sleep good tonight!” or, “Get them tuckered out so they’ll be chill by the time you get home.” Kids are tiny balls of love, snot, and energy and if that energy doesn’t come out in a constructive way it’ll come out in ways that could be disruptive at school or at home.
PlaygroundEquipment.com looked at all 50 states and their policies surrounding recess. They note how over the years recess is often put on the back burner in favor of standardized testing, arbitrary quotas, etc. 8 states received a failing grade and Maine was one of them. Why? Because here in Maine there are no laws or recommendations when it comes to recess. Plus, recess can be withheld as punishment.
I think a lot of us can remember the threat from teachers when one student was misbehaving that if they didn’t get in line the whole class would have to stay inside for recess. Looking back that makes even less sense than it did in 4th grade.
PlaygroundEquipment.com goes on to note that when kids have recess they statistically make better food choices, are less likely to be obese, that it’s a child’s right according to the United Nations High Commission of Human Rights, it builds independence, and graduation rates end up being higher.
So, let’s do better Maine. Let the kids play. It’s a no-lose situation. Our education system has so many flaws, let’s start improving by letting our kids play, explore, and imagine each and every day. Failing at recess is failing our kids.