Free Minds & Free Markets

When School Kids Lose Their Recess Time: New at Reason

When Donna James' fourth-grade son told her his teacher was taking his recess time away, the Fort Wayne, Indiana, dispatcher assumed this was so he'd have extra time to finish his assignments. "I was OK with it," she says. "Then one day I asked him, 'So what did you get done during recess?' And he said, 'Nothing.'"

Why not? "Because she makes me stand against the wall," he answered. Welcome to the wonderful world of recess withholding.

Most child development experts believe that kids need some unstructured run-around time during the day. The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared that "recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child's development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons." And yet schools aren't just shrinking the number of recess minutes per day in order to shoehorn in more class time and test prep: Many allow teachers to take away recess as a form of punishment writes Lenore Skenazy.

Photo Credit: Recess


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