Respect Recess


Last week SHAPE America  released an awesome document and set of resources that provide step-by-step guidance and evidence-based strategies to support school recess for all K-12 students and enhance active school environments. This great advocacy document, prepared in collaboration with the CDC and other partners can be used by teachers, administrators and other stakeholders to ensure that schools create environments that allow students to be active, in ways that they choose, while taking a break from academic work during the school day.

This is a milestone in our quest to increase children’s physical activity levels. Daily recess, monitored by well-trained staff or volunteers, can optimize a child’s social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Recess contributes to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity for students and helps them apply the knowledge and skills they learn in an effective health and physical education program. In addition, recess supports 50 Million Strong, SHAPE America’s commitment to empower all kids to lead active and healthy lives. – SHAPE America Chief Executive Officer E. Paul Roetert, Ph.D.

As health teachers we know that recess allows students to take some of the health skills that we teach in the classroom and practice and apply them in real life settings. Recess gives students the opportunity to practice health enhancing behaviors in the larger setting of recess, a setting in which all students are free to interact irrespective of academic needs, functional limitations or physical disabilities.

Although the physical nature of free play during recess increases the level of activity that students can get during the day, it is the social and emotional skills that can be developed at this time that many health educators will be interested in. I asked some educators in the #Healthed Voxer group what their views were on increased student access to recess.

I’m interested in the emotional and social aspect of what recess does for kids each day. This is the only time of the day where a child’s time is their own, their choice, their ability to have free time, free play, free choice, and the positive effect on their social and emotional health. They’re developing friendships and resolving conflicts, and navigating their world through free play – Judy LoBianco

Judy acknowledges that recess can help our students practice social skills such as cooperation, following rules, problem-solving, negotiation, sharing, communication and conflict resolution. In the Voxer chat I also heard from our National Health Teacher of the Year, Melanie Lynch who saw ways in which health teachers might be able to help make the recess environment more engaging.

This is the only time that is their own. They may find that it’s important to work on relationships that day rather than to play hopscotch, or whatever activity is going on. We as health educators should offer up recess challenges, scavenger hunts etc. We tend to do more of that kind of stuff in the classroom. Think of this as a big brain burst only we finally have the space that we always wish we had in our classrooms – Melanie Lynch

All educators should be in support of these recess strategies as we know that active students are more likely to positively engage in classroom activities, and that being active can enhance cognitive performance. Additionally, a well-organized recess plan can also reduce bullying and exclusionary behavior thus helping our students feel safe and more engaged in school. This in turn can lead to higher levels of school connectedness, contributing to a positive school climate.

As health and wellness educators it is important that we support and spread the word about this document and the importance of recess. We should be discussing this with other teachers, administrators, students and parents so that they too can be vocal and advocate with us.

Q1. What are the strengths of your existing #recess provision? #slowchathealth

Q2. In what ways has your school created a #recess environment that supports physical activity? #slowchathealth

Q3. How do you involve students in the planning and leading of #recess? #slowchathealth

Q4. What data, if any, do you track during #recess? #slowchathealth

Q5. Give a shout out to a stakeholder who has supported your #recess program! #slowchathealth

4 thoughts on “Respect Recess

  1. Pingback: The PE Playbook – January 2017 Edition – drowningintheshallow

  2. AP

    recess is especially necessary these days with schools being so focused on cramming ever more content into a school day. But recess needs to be “Freecess” where the kids are not burdened by too many guidelines or rules the adults have placed on them. It is a challenge for teachers or supervisors of recess to stand by and let children sort out differences their own way, but that needs to happen so kids are aware of their actions.


  3. Physical activity supports brain development & improves engagement in learning & behavior. When students with ADHD exercise regularly teachers report better learning & improved behavior. Students who are most likely to lose recess are those who need it most! Removing recess doesn’t provide students with a model of how they should behave. They learn that their behavior was wrong but they may not know what they should have done instead.
    Kids are expected to make mistakes and teachers are expected to teach them appropriately.


  4. Pingback: Trading Your Yard (Recess) Duty for a Club – #slowchathealth

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