OMG don’t get me started. The fact that there is legislation created dictating the amount of time that children get for recess or outside time is absolutely ridiculous. No adult in their right mind who knows anything about children or who has stepped foot inside of a school would ever argue that children need to get outside to run around to be kids. This applies to preschool kids through 8th grade. However, how many middle or junior high schools still have recess for their kids? I would venture to say not many.
For state government policy makers to create laws that say anything other than “it is up to the individual schools and school leaders to determine how many times or for how long children play outside” is absurd. There are no more important decision makers to the academic, physical, social and emotional health of children than all of the teachers and staff within a school. Those individuals should be responsible for determining how long and how many times children get to play outside to be kids. These caregivers are with the kids, more often than not, longer than their parents and know what is in the best interest of these children.
What happens with kids after being outside is like when you relieve the pressure on a car tire that is over inflated. It is more efficient, quieter, and rides smoother. The same thing happens with children after they come back into the classroom from recess. For the most part, the kids are more focused, more relaxed, and I would even say appreciative of their teacher for taking them outside.
Furthermore, teachers need these mental health breaks outside as well. Teachers need this release from the pressures of teaching all of these little human beings. Teaching is stressful and it’s taxing. Teachers need to get outside to clear their heads, get some vitamin d, and to re-energize themselves. Also and possibly most importantly, this is usually a time when they can talk to their adult colleagues about the effectiveness of their instruction, get different perspectives about their kids’ academic or behavioral “performance”, and to talk to other human beings who are not children. For anyone who cares for children for the bulk of their day, talking with other adult human beings is extremely critical to one’s mental health.
The schools we have created in Georgia, The Academy and The SAE School, embrace outside time, kids having recess, and movement. This includes preschool students through 8th grade. We understand the importance of both kids and their caregivers (teachers) getting this necessary outside time. Some days, teachers may take their students out multiple times a day. Recess for our students is not only important, but expected. Imagine that?!
As I always say, teaching and education is a marathon, and not a sprint. Unfortunately, everything that is and in education, to include recess or the lack thereof, is setup as a sprint and against everything we know is best for kids. Why?!