Tuesday, February 25, 2020
US flag

Recess should not be taken away as punishment

A blogger in the New York Times writes that kids who need recess the most are the ones who most often have recess taken away, either as punishment for misbehavior in class or to sneak in a few extra minutes of instruction for students who might be struggling on a tested subject.

Author Jessica Lahey seemed surprised that in a recent Gallup poll of US principals, eight out of 10 acknowledge that time to play has a “positive impact on achievement,” and two-thirds of principals state that “students listen better after recess and are more focused in class.”

Yet, the poll also found that 77 percent of US principals have held kids in during recess as a punishment for misbehavior. What’s worse than the irony is the ineffectiveness of this punishment: Keeping kids away from recess is more likely to result in more misbehavior than it is to correct the behavior for which they’re being punished.

Important links in the article:

Ms Lahey asked one educational psychologist and former teacher about taking recess away from kids. According to Michele Borba, keeping kids in at recess causes them to lose (a) brain power; (b) connections with their peers, who are out at recess and may see the punished child as a “bad kid” in school; (c) relationships with teachers, so they may tune teachers out during important learning time; and (d) opportunities to correct the misbehavior, resulting in an unending spiral of misbehavior and punishment.

If we truly want our children to function at their academic, physical, and mental best, teachers need to stop withholding recess, and schools need to protect it. Cutting into or taking away recess time is counter-intuitive and self-defeating. When we deprive our children of the cognitive rest and physical activity they need to perform at their best, teachers undermine the very education we seek to impart.

The Maryland State Board of Education recently revised the discipline code schools should follow. Their changes were aimed at keeping students in school instead of suspending them out of school for nonviolent offenses.

Within the last month, then, we have considered two attempts to get discipline right, so that it provides the maximum learning opportunities for all children in our schools. Both policies involve improvements to the amount of time kids are able to spend in their seats, in a classroom, paying attention. Both are backed by years of research. Let’s see if schools take the advice.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.