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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