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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Put more play in school day

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I remember a time when I was little and I actually enjoyed going to school. Playing tag, pulling girls' hair and mingling with friends was the high point of the day. Of course, all of that was done during recess, something that is almost a dirty word in schools today.

Until recently I didn't realize that today's "educators" frowned on recess, favoring more work and less play. It wasn't until I saw a schedule for a first grader that I realized he had only one, 20-minute recess, per day. And the poor child only has 20 minutes for lunch. Are you kidding me?

First, I can barely eat lunch in 20 minutes and I don't have to wait in line to get it. I guess if you are at the back of the line you only get a couple bites before you go back to class. Then those students spend the rest of the day hungry and we all know that is good for concentration. But our "educators" know best.

But the thing that gets me is only one recess a day. When I was in elementary school I can remember getting a recess in the morning and a recess in the afternoon. And when we were finished with lunch we could go out and play too. We were able to get out of the stuffy classroom and exercise and clear our heads before we got back to the business of learning how to invent the wheel and such.

Recess is an important part of education. For a lot of kids, recess is their favorite part of school. By taking that away our "educators" are already turning kids against school. If you hate elementary school the chances are you are going to loathe middle school and high school.

And let's not forget what kids do at recess. They play with each other. To me, nothing is as important as learning to interact with others and you can't do that very well in a classroom. Kids from different cultures can interact and learn from each other. How many kids in elementary school have you seen that are worried about race or social status of Billy Joe's parents?

Not only do the students get to interact but they get to play. They aren't just sitting at their desks, but they are outside running and jumping. Aren't parents worried about obesity in children? Maybe children today are obese because they aren't allowed to play as much as they used to. Children are taught to sit in classrooms all day instead of being allowed to get outside and play tag, kickball, hopscotch and all of the other games that we used to play as children.

To me, not having recess seems counterproductive. I know that after I sit for a while I begin to fidget and don't focus like I should and I'm not in elementary school. When we get angry at work or frustrated we have the ability to manage our feelings. But how many 6 and 7-year-olds have that ability? How many temper tantrums or outbursts can be avoided by having recess and giving a child an opportunity to unload some of their stress?

It seems the lack of recess would hurt the teachers as well. You can learn a lot about children just by watching them on the playground. The teacher can assess a child's popularity and see what kids are being picked on or may not be as outgoing. All those things can be just as important as what is learned sitting in the classroom.

I know there is a need to better educate our children. We are constantly reminded how much smarter children in Japan are, but here's the kicker. In Japan, they alternate between classroom and recess more than in the United States. Maybe that is the answer. More recess.

That is why I have developed a fail proof plan. Not only do elementary school students get two recesses a day but so does the entire country. Each morning and each afternoon at the same time across the country recess will be held at at the same time. We will all get a chance to get away from the rigors of our job or school and take a break. We can play tag in the parking lot, throw the football around in the street and talk about how great our bosses are.

And everyone has to participate, well except our "educators." They can sit in their office and stare out at the world actually having a little bit of fun while they try to remember back when they were children. Oh, I think I hear that recess bell now.

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