The Case of the Vanishing Recess | Teen Ink

The Case of the Vanishing Recess

November 4, 2009
By Wfeeney52 BRONZE, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Wfeeney52 BRONZE, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Why do schools cut recess? Is it some diabolical plot to end fun and joy, to force kids everywhere to toil away in dark, cold school buildings all day? When my parents (and generally anyone over forty) think of recess they think of the recess they knew. Forty five minutes of fun and joy in which to eat lunch, and run around in the sun. Over the years recess has grown shorter and shorter until now, when kids are lucky to get fifteen minutes or less of recess time, or even fifteen minutes as their only break in the whole day.

The main culprit is a bill passed in 2000 called No Child Left Behind; it called for more testing to make sure that every child was receiving fair and equal education. On the surface it looked like a great idea, who wouldn’t want kids to be smarter? But there were many bad repercussions, such as much shorter recess to make room for longer classes. With more stress put on testing (No Child Left Behind introduced most standardized testing, like the MCAS) many schools cut recess down a few minutes, or cut it out of the schedule altogether to have a little more time for math and English. However, what the government didn’t know is that actually they were making the situation worse.

Debates have raged on for decades about recess. Some say that kids don’t need it and that it is a useless period. Others say that it helps kid’s concentration in school, and kids can get some exercise. Recently, multiple studies have shown that kids do really need recess, or a similarly unstructured long break. Without a break, kids grow bored very quickly during long classes, and become unfocused. To get some other opinions other than those of child psychologists, and teachers, I asked a few of my classmates. The majority had the same answer, “Yes I do think that kids need recess because it helps them concentrate and they get less bored with schoolwork.” Another response was, “Yes, because kids need exercise and they need breaks from school work.” Most teachers believe the same thing, some having seen the results of no recess right before their eyes.

For example: a Massachusetts school wanted to see if recess really did affect kid's work habits and concentration. The ten kids used in the study had their recess time cut down to fifteen minutes a day, and breaks shortened to five minutes. With less recess and break, the children had more trouble concentrating on the longer classes, and grew bored faster. When they took a test at the end of three weeks, their scores dropped by an average of eight points each. This was not a reflection of the teachers, or the school; the teachers hadn’t changed their teaching style or curriculum, and there were no new teachers. There were no changes to the school either. No, what caused this was the cut in breaks. To see if this was the problem the administration restored recess to the full forty minutes, and the students took the test again after a week. Their scores improved by an average of nine points. This example is proof of why kids need recess. It improves concentration among other things, and it has a beneficial effect on test scores and grades.

Teachers and child psychologists also believe that a unstructured break period of medium to long length (25-45 minutes) is beneficial and even necessary to a young child’s development. Child psychologist Amy Roberts in an interview with said, “I believe that recess is a very important time in a young child’s life, during which they develop many important motor, social, and problem solving skills. With a shorter recess or none at all, children lose an important time to develop many important skills.” With many schools giving homework at a much younger age than they used to (another unforeseen effect of the No Child Left Behind Bill), and more students participating in extracurricular activities, most students don’t have another chance to practice these important skills.
Over time it has been proven that kids need recess more than most people think, and that it is a very important, even crucial time to build social, and problem solving skills, and to get some exercise. Hopefully, schools will realize what an important period recess really is and take the correct course of action by extending recess. Remember, kids with recess are happy healthy kids.

The author's comments:
My English teacher inspired to write this piece

Similar Articles


This article has 4 comments.

on Jan. 10 2011 at 6:39 am
XxWhisperMeTruthxX BRONZE, Limington, Maine
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Tis but a flesh wound!!

In my school with grades 6-9, 6th and 7th graders have recess while the 8th and 9th don't. I believe that if the two younger grades have recess AND break times the older grades should have more than JUST a 15 minute lunch.

on Dec. 21 2010 at 6:36 pm
LovableD BRONZE, Killeen, Texas
2 articles 0 photos 26 comments

Favorite Quote:
Are you living or are you exsisting

As a middle schoole,r I truly believe that we should have more time to relax, because going to at least 8 periods and well over half of them are work, kids start to lose focus. Every once in a while we deserve a break. I don't like how teachers or grownups automatically think that we are to old for recees. I pesonally is still a big kid inside and out.

on Feb. 15 2010 at 10:14 am
Dandelion PLATINUM, Franklin, Massachusetts
20 articles 8 photos 173 comments
Most teachers in my middle school allow us to eat, but we have no break for snacktime, per se. We have two minute locker breaks and a 19 minute lunch, I believe.

Jigjoo GOLD said...
on Dec. 16 2009 at 9:43 am
Jigjoo GOLD, Many, Louisiana
10 articles 8 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
Hello. My name is Muerte, and I will be your assassin today.

I agree that recess is crucial to child and teenager development (my gpa dropped from 4.00 to 3.45), however, homework isn't truly the issue. I was given my weight in homework every night as a preschooler, and by the time I was in first grade, I could read third-grade level books, add four-digit numbers, and write in cursive. (I couldn't write in print, however.) Of course, my school also allowed us forty-five minutes of recess a day, even on Saturdays. Now I go to a public school with a ten-minute snack and half-hour lunch, and it becomes increasingly difficult for me to concentrate and excel in my classes. Recess is important, and adults need it just as much as we teens do.