Friday, September 18, 2009

Take away recess? No!

Should teachers take away recess from kindergartners, first graders, second graders?

You know. The class is noisy. The class won't quiet down. It's a beautiful day outside - sunny, warm, nice breeze, pretty clouds. A few kids are antsy, talkative, wiggling around in their seats.

You're the teacher. You're big; they're small. You're standing; they're sitting. You're in charge; they're not. So you tell them to quiet down or they won't get any recess. Then you tell them that, if they won't quiet down, they'll miss both recesses that day! That all of them will miss recess, if the few don't quiet down.

Good move; right? WRONG! You have just bought yourself a day of disruption, more discontent, more stress. For you and for them.

Any parent will tell you that kids need recess. I asked my 5th Grade granddaughter recently what the best part of her school day was. "Recess!"

They need to get outside and blow off some steam, so that they can come back in and try to sit through hours more of listening, sitting, "learning." Remember... you are on your feet, moving around. They are not.

Don't take my word for it. Yesterday's speaker at MCC, Eric Guy, gave exactly that advice. Too bad that there weren't hundreds of teachers in the MCC Conference Center to hear him.

And today Kirk Martin's e-newsletter from includes this admonishment to teachers who find themselves with a disruptive child in the classroom: "Side tip for teachers: please never ever take away recess. It does not motivate kids and ends up hurting you because a child who doesn't get exercise will have more attention and behavior issues. Instead, give the child a purposeful mission--have the student create a poster or pick up trash on the playground. 'Let's see how much trash you can put in the bag in 7 ½ minutes.' He lost playtime, but now he has a job to do and is connecting with you in a positive way. This is HUGE. Be sure to praise for a good job picking up trash."

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