Do kids need recess? | Mentoring in the Middle

Do kids need recess?

I was in professional development meetings today.  Our students get the day off because of the annual fair in our community.  One of our meetings was in a second grade classroom that looked a lot like this one.  I got to sit on one of the balls for a while, and it was fun, although a colleague couldn't stop bouncing on his, and I found that surprisingly distracting.  I wonder if kids feel that way.

That got me thinking about a conversation that's been taking place at our school this year about recess.  Because of some schedule changes - and several changes in adminstrators - recess for our fifth and sixth graders has been cut by 5-10 minutes.

Last year, 6th graders had 35 minutes for lunch and recess, and 5th graders had 40 minutes.  This year, both grades have half an hour. Teachers have expressed concern, and to their credit, administrators are hearing us.  Unfortunately, they feel they have no chance to change things this year.

That means that, in order to get outside to play, kids have to shovel food down their throats in fifteen minutes, assuming they have food in front of them right as they come in to the cafeteria.  Standing in line takes time.  Kids are required to stay in the cafeteria for at least fifteen minutes, and monitors check to make sure kids are eating.  But even under the best circumstances, until they get to the gym or outside, they only have about ten minutes to play.

And then tonight, I read this article, published in the Washington Post last summer.  And it made me wonder if we have it all wrong.  Click on this link to read the article.
 The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class
Read it and see what you think.  

How about your students?  How much time do they have for recess?  Do you think it's enough?

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