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15/01/16 Blog

Four Recess Breaks a Day. Excessive or Excellent?

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Playtime is a wonderful time for any child. It's the chance for them to break free from the classroom and embrace the outdoors. For many young children, it's understandable that they desire to play outside more than inside during the school day. There's an attraction to the outdoors that sparks excitement for them, a chance for children to be themselves for moments of the day and rejuvenate for the next group of lessons.

Again, as with many aspects of education, it's about mixing the right balance to keep children stimulated and engaged in their work - not the easiest task as teachers and assistants will know.

So, how about this? A school in Texas has taken the leap to give children 4 recess breaks per day. Is this excessive? Or, is it the right thing to do?

Eagle Mountain Elementary in Forth West, Texas have allowed their first-grade and kindergarten pupils the chance to take the 4, 15-minute breaks each day and they say the results have been wonderful. Although some teachers were initially worried about losing classroom time, they have now warmed to the idea. This is because after 5 months, they say they have seen a 'beautiful' difference in the children's attitude to learning. Apparently, they are now a lot more focused and willing to learn. There's less fidgeting and more attention being paid to their teachers.

Donna McBride, a first-grade teacher at the school said:

"There was a part of me that was nervous about it. I was trying to wrap my head around my class going outside four times a day and still being able to teach those children all the things they need to learn".

Children are now also following directions better, attempting to learn more and act independently. However, another major breakthrough in the changes has meant fewer disciplinary issues.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that recess is “a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development".

This debate will weigh heavy with a lot of parents and teachers, but a question put forward was how do we expect our children to learn and focus all day, when adults sometimes struggle to do just the same? After all, everybody needs to blow off a little steam during the day.

Debbie Rhea, who is working with Eagle Mountain Elementary and other schools to increase the amount of physical activity and play time said:

“You start putting 15 minutes of what I call ‘reboot’ into these kids every so often and… it gives the platform for them to be able to function at their best level."

Rhea’s is heading the program calling for schools to add the four 15-minute recesses a day for kindergarten and first-grade students, and then adding another grade every year as it goes on.

There's no denying that children need their playtime. But if this programme is rolled-out to all ages, does it then become excessive? Let's say for sixth-grade students, does this set-them up for secondary school or does it retain them in lower education?

Please share your thoughts with us, we'd love to hear from you.

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