Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Olly Olly Oxen Free. No recess for you!

In the most recent PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results, published in December 2010, Canadian students scored in the top 6 in reading, science and math.

Why do Canadian students score higher on international tests than American students?

Could this be one of the answers? Recess twice a day for 25 minutes, which includes snack time as well as play. After recess students are refreshed and more attentive in class.

As a mother of 3 boys, I can tell you they are full of energy. If they are chained to a desk all day they will become fidgety and will not be able to concentrate.

In Florida recess is only available in Kindergarten, once a day for 15 minutes. I remember eldest boy starting 1st grade and coming home very unhappy because he had to sit still at a desk all day.

After kindergarten, recess is unknown in Florida. Is it a coincidence that Florida schools rank behind most other states?

During middle school at the end of the school day my children were told they had 4 minutes to leave the building and get on the bus or they would be given detention. You had to rush from the classroom to the locker, and to the bus. Forget going to the bathroom on the way, or saying hello to a friend. To make matters worse, Florida does not have neighbourhood schools. Kids are bused all over town to make up racial quotas, so the only time they might see their friends would be at school.

In Ontario children get recess through 8th grade. The entire school goes out for recess. There are 3 different play sections depending on grade. Younger children to 2nd grade in one area. 3rd to 5th grade in another area. 6th to 8th grade in a separate area. There are 3 teachers per area. Injuries, if they happen, tend to be minor, and lawsuits virtually unknown.

I live near a school and love hearing the children outside playing during recess. They go outside during the winter, except when it is very cold. I would often see the school children out tobogganing at recess.

Playtime is a necessary part of growing up because children learn important social skills and they need to burn off energy.

Sometimes recess in the US is replaced by PE. While kids need PE it is a structured activity and does not replace recess. In addition to PE, kids need free time to play with other kids.

Many states have either eliminated recess, or are considering it, in order to devote more time to instruction to increase test scores. How sad and ill advised.

Goodbye recess, hello Ritalin.

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