According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in the past thirty years. A lot of people want to blame this on a number of things, video games being number one, followed shortly after sugary foods and drinks. I, however, think there might be another problem lurking behind the scenes. Something even Michelle Obama might not be aware of. Lack of recess.
When I was in school, not that many moons ago, we had two recesses. One in the morning and one after lunch. Yes it was as smaller school, yes it was awhile ago, no I don’t think any of those facts matter. My graduating class spent less time in the classroom, never heard of the common core, and we sure didn’t start doing homework like this,
until much later then third grade. What do we have to show from it? Doctor’s, teachers, government workers, police officers, military, artists, chefs, men and women of religion, comedians, business people, volunteers. We have mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and friends. And not one of us, spent anytime doing common core math. We all had two recesses, we all had gym class. There was not a push to get kids to get better test scores.
So okay…times change, we need kids to be more focused. (read: start over medicating the little monsters) We needs kid to perform well so we can look good. (read: get higher test scores then the other schools) Fine…I’ll roll with it(because I can opt out of testing)…but not when you take away the only break my son and his friends have during the day. That is when I go all Mama Bear.
See my kid goes to school for about 7 hours. Of those 7 hours, he gets an 1 hour. 1/2 to scarf down a lunch and 1/2 for recess. The rest of the time (and this was said to us at open house AND during his parent/teacher conference), he and the rest of the kids are expected to sit. No fidgeting, no talking, no moving, just sit and work. Sit and listen. Sit and read or write. Sit. Sit. SIT. For close to 6 hours. Yes they get up to go to the other classes, but then they are in a quiet line, moving quietly throughout the school. Only to sit again. Sit Sit SIT.
They all look forward to recess. I know I did as a kid, and we were not forced to sit sit SIT. Even as boring, and pointless as indoor recess in his school is, they look forward to any break. A fire drill sends them over the moon, pathetic right? So what happens if little Johnny forgets to do his math homework? What happens if half the class isn’t done their assignments? What happens if Peter and Parker were goofing off a few minutes before the next lesson? Want to know?
They miss recess. Yep. They get their recess taken away from them. If a child is goofing off in class, he needs recess. I know I sound like one of those parents who thinks her kid is king, but I am not. If Cody misbehaves I am all for punishment. I don’t think recess should be used as a punishment. Recess should be MANDATORY for all kids. Recess should be outside whenever possible. I think PE should be every day too, but our school feels like 90 minutes a week is adequate. So if they are only getting 90 minutes of PE, it is dark when some of these kids get home in the winter, oh lest we forget the hour it takes to do common core homework, required minimum of 20 minutes reading, practice vocabulary…eat dinner…yes when are they supposed to exercise? hmm? Recess. That is where. By taking that away you are only contributing to the obesity issue, (way to go healthy habits school), you are also messing with socializing and slew of other benefits.
I have an office job, a really nice place to work, (when researching labor laws I realized how nice it actually is). Anyway, no one sits at their desk all day. No one. I am not saying our jobs don’t get done, they do, and amazingly. We have a bunch of really creative, hardworking people working at my job. None of them are lazy. Do we roll over and chat with our co-worker? Yes. Do we get up and stretch? Yes. Do we take bathroom breaks when the need arises? You betcha.
Do our children get to? No. They don’t get any of that. They are expected to sit. Furthermore, on more than one occasion, my son has been denied access to the bathroom. When researching if that was even legal I found this site, (Teacher advice to top kids from using the bathroom ), so I guess it is legal and even encouraged. I understand that some kids might abuse it, but my kid comes home with stomach cramps and accidents because of this. Emails have resulted in them calling me (I feel, although I can’t be sure, that they don’t want anything in writing that can be used against them…call me paranoid), and telling me that “oh if its an emergency…but you know kids they just like to get out class” No…yeah no…not when your kids is tears. I would say that is an emergency.
We haven’t had any issues of late…I am hoping we won’t. There shouldn’t have been any to begin with.
So what do we have here? We have recess being taken away for numerous reasons, we have limited PE classes, we have a generation of children that are expected to do nothing but sit and work, and are denied the basic human right of using the bathroom. Know what we are going to see in 20 years?
Less…less actors, less athletes, less thinkers, less inventors, less artists, less..
When you stifle the children’s creativity and love for learning, you make a huge mistake at what amazing things can be found from them.