“Imagine a world where we get as excited about funding access to recess as we do about funding access to computers.”
Lawrence J. Cohen and Anthony T. DeBenedet wrote an excellent article in Time Ideas/Time.com warning that we are in a “recess recession.” They say that a child attending a poor, urban or mostly minority school has on average 10 to 15 minutes less playground time per day than children in wealthier school districts. Sometimes these children have no recess at all.
They point out that more time spent on test preparation is one reason that recess is eliminated.
“Lately, however, another anti-recess argument has hit the scene. It stems from our nationwide consciousness and fear of bullying,” DeBenedet and Cohen said. “Essentially the idea (albeit mistaken) is that without recess, bullies will have less opportunity to victimize their peers. Bullying of course isn’t eliminated when recess is banned — instead it just goes underground, metastasizing in hallways, bathrooms, buses and on the Internet.”
The real solution to bullying on the playground is to train recess supervisors to know the difference between playing and aggression, and to recognize and respond appropriately to escalating situations. This, at its most basic level, means learning how to feel comfortable with children arguing about the rules of a game or about whether the ball was in or out. When this happens, recess becomes a wonderful working laboratory for children to develop their social competence, leadership abilities and conflict resolution skills.