Recess Is Back!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

By: Matt Norman

When I was a kid and people asked me what my favorite subject in school was, my answer was usually science. Of course, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, "Sucker. My favorite subject is recess.” As an 80s kid, I remember running gleefully around the school yard playing chase and kick ball with friends during those glorious 25-30 minutes of outside post-lunch freedom.

Recess, once a staple of the elementary school day, has nearly gone the way of Z. Cavaricci pants. But one school in Texas is starting to bring recess back. According to Today, kindergarteners and first graders at Eagle Mountain Elementary in Ft. Worth enjoy two 15-minute breaks in the morning and two more in the afternoon. 

The idea behind extra recess, according to Texas Christian University kinesiology professor, Debbie Rhea, is the free outside time allows children’s brains to "reboot” and readies them for better focus and learning. Despite early reservations that the loss of classroom time could hurt children academically, the program appears to be working. First grade teacher, Donna McBride, notes that her students are more focused, follow directions better, and attempt to solve problems on their own without the need for her help following the recess breaks.

My mom, an elementary school teacher for 30+ years before retiring a few years ago, always bemoaned the loss of physical education recess time. She says that kindergarteners and first graders need recess time to get energy out. I'm sure she would say the teachers appreciate the time away from the chalkboard -- or whiteboard or whatever it is they use these days -- as well.I couldn’t agree more. My daughter will start kindergarten next school year (cue Cat’s In the Cradle and a solitary tear rolling down my face) and, honestly, I’m concerned about how she’ll fare without a few designated periods of time to play away from her school desk. I know that at age 5, the days she spends more time outside are much more manageable than days she spends inside. And let me tell you, the good days are exponentially better than the rough days. Will it really be all that different at age 6 or age 7? 

As with many things in life, what’s old has become new again. Maybe recess is about to make a comeback in a major way. I hope so! 

Let’s leave the Z. Cavariccis buried in the past, though, ok?

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