When P.E. and 12 Other Activities Masquerade as Recess


As state legislatures make mandates claiming to secure recess in schools, it is important to nail down what they mean when they define recess.

There are a lot of canned activities and commercialized gimmicks parading as recess. It is important not to be duped into thinking your child is getting recess when they aren’t.

Look at your school district and ask whether your child’s school has recess. Then ask what it is they do when they call it recess.

Activities that Are Not Recess

Here is a list of activities and commercial programs that are NOT recess. All of these programs deny children real free time. And some of the programs seem like the privatization of play.

  1. Sitting on a balance ball while doing schoolwork.  Some teachers use exercise balls to fulfill the state mandated time requirement for recess. For some children, focusing on balancing might make it difficult to do schoolwork! But even if balancing helps them focus, it is not recess!
  2. Peaceful Playgrounds.  This commercial program creates blueprints for recess activities and promises to keep recess costs low (when did recess cost anything?). It also advertises that it prevents bullying. But recess is a period for children to socialize and work out problematic behaviors.
  3. Stand2Learn.  There is nothing wrong giving children the option to stand while they work, or to move around the classroom. But this is not recess and I question the claims made here.

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