More Time for Recess ≠ Reducing Instructional Time

Teachers know. . . Recess can support students' physical health, social skills, and ability to focus and learn.   

Two thirds of our children don't get enough exercise every week. This lack of activity contributes to a myriad of behavioral, health and academic problems.

In many districts, schedules are determined - in large part - by administrators. Often, time allocated for recess is sorely lacking. 

What will it take to bring a sufficient amount of recess back?

Could this work in your school - or does it spark other ideas that might work? 

Focus on the amount of time, per child, that is available for recess. This can be a very different mindset than scheduling by class.

While teachers conduct small group lessons, could it be beneficial for paraprofessionals to take some of the other kids out for recess (instead of supervising independent work)? 

The teacher would have a smaller group to supervise while working with reading and/or math groups.

If there is not currently a paraprofessional available, is it time to ask administrators to re-consider use of staff? The health and well-being of our students could depend on it!

In this scenario, a paraprofessional might take one half of the students in each of two classes out for recess, then return to take the other half. 

Some possible benefits:

No direct instructional time would be lost. 

It could be easier for the students in the classroom to focus (as there would be less distractions). 

Kids might be able to see friends from other classrooms. 

Would this have to be the only recess?  Absolutely not! Since instructional time would not be lost, the "other block" of recess could still take place. 

Before schedules are set for next year, let's brainstorm ways to increase recess for our students. If we can provide viable options, without significant cost or reduction to instructional time, I believe most administrators will buy in.  

1) As with most educational issues, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This won't work in every school. (But, could it spark other ideas that might?)

2) To protect student privacy, the images included in this post are not taken on school playgrounds. They are pictures from my own camera roll, taken long ago. Feel free to pin or use them.  

3) I would love to hear your thoughts for increasing recess time for kids. By sharing your ideas below, you might help teachers and students in another location. . . 

Thanks for stopping by and taking time to read this post!

Sincerely, Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy)


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