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I’m writing this post during recess. It’s not really recess. It’s lunchtime. However, for this half an hour, students have a break. They can move. They can play. They can socialize. They can be free.

I contrast this to my daughter’s class. She’s in pre-school, where there are no state tests to pass. She moves regularly from center to center or in the midst of a learning activity. On top of that, though, she has two recesses. They aren’t long – maybe fifteen minutes each. Still, those times are important for a few reasons:

  • She gets to decide what she will do
  • She gets a break from the time she has been spending think about math concepts or phonics
  • She gets a chance to improve her coordination
  • She gets to learn how to communicate, negotiate and participate in self-directed team sports
  • She gets to use her imagination

When I look at those points above, I can’t help but think that those are also necessary skills for middle schoolers. I know my students are older and more developed. They’re supposed to be more responsible. However, it seems to me that as you get older you should also get more freedom — or at least keep some of the freedom that you already have.

In education, we talk about the importance of research. What about the research on taking breaks? What about the research on how physical activity affects the brain? What about the research showing that sitting down shortens a person’s life?

I realize that time is important. However, so is movement. So is freedom. So is social interaction. So are the skills you learn through play. So, it has me wondering why don’t have recess in middle school.

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John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.More about me


  • Recess was banned in Kindergarten 2-3 years ago. Our district ignores the research about the benefits of it as well as best practices in early childhood education. District policy makers are all about rigor, testing and avoiding law suits. They've been freaked out about the 'Move on When Reading' legislation and are trying to maximize the minutes of learning to the detriment of our youngest students. Literacy and math centers all have to be tied to academic standards so imaginative play and free exploration are not allowed in the classroom either. How are children going to learn about not throwing sand, organizing games and imaginative play if they don't have opportunities to practice? What will they be like as middle schoolers having missed out on some of the 'work' of early childhood?

  • Kids of all ages should have time to move during the day. As a principal, I had a 5th grade teacher to stopped everything mid morning and mid afternoon for exercise. He would lead some calisthenics or have the students to close order drill. Yes he was a Marine who served a tour in Iraq. The kids loved it and seemed more engaged in lessons that followed. I've also seen a high school where kids run back and forth in the halls twice a day. One advantage of home schooling is that kids can exercise mid morning and mid afternoon. The research is there.

  • Anonymous says:

    I believe middle school should have recess, this does allow for kids to get up and move instead of walking from class to class all day. With the movement their brain has a chance to reengage in school. I agree with your reasons of the social interaction between the kids as well too. This will give students a chance to get away from school and also cell phones to make those friendships. Recess should be applied in more schools.

  • Anonymous says:


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