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Recess for All?

I heard principal and founder of the Ron Clark Academy say the problem with children today is that everyone gets an award for participation. Mr. Clark thought by teaching kids you win even when you don’t is creating an environment of spoiled kids who thinks the world will bow to them. I generally agree. Recently, Representative Demetrius Douglas proposed legislation that made recess mandatory and prevented teachers from using recess as punishment. Can teachers make a misbehaving child walk in circles in “the yard” when they misbehave instead? It may be good practice for those children who are headed that way despite the hard work of the child’s teachers and schools. The reality is, our prisons are filled with children who had recess and it hasn’t made a difference.

The increase in attention deficit disorders are concerning to many teachers and parents. A child, who due to no fault of their own, that needs an extra release must be considered. However, at what point is it the job of the parent to ensure a child receives that extra release before they go to school. Then there are cases where ADHD is not the issue. Sometimes there are children who simply have horrible behavior. I watched a mother who attempted to introduce me to her fifth-grade child who refused to put down his phone and say his name while looking at me in the eyes. When the mother grabbed the phone the child screamed at her and blamed her for his low score. That child probably needs to run more than anyone. However, if he pulls that type of attitude at home what is he doing at school? Do we want to take away one of the few items of control a teacher has and require them by law to let this child play freely even when he misbehaves?

Imagine the child whose behavior does not rise to the level of being put out of class but whose constant disruptions interrupt more than thirty minutes of instruction time. Now imagine what happens when the bell rings and that child’s behavior is rewarded with play time. I send my children to school for education. They can play when they get home.

Recess should be reserved for children who behave. Recess is an opportunity to teach children about time management. If the teacher cannot focus and get the lesson done because of disruptions or lack of focus, then the children can’t play.

Recess is certainly preferred but the reality is we already put too much on the schools and teachers. This bill fails to take into consideration practicalities of space, inclement weather, and most importantly the behavior not attributable to serious medical conditions. Some kids just need to sit down somewhere.

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