If you have a child in elementary school, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumblings, excitement and complaints that revolve around their limited time outside....

If you have a child in elementary school, I’m sure you’ve heard the rumblings, excitement and complaints that revolve around their limited time outside.

Many schools require teachers to stop instruction for a recess. Some allow the loss of recess to be used as a punishment for poor behavior, and others allow children to go to recess but require them to do schoolwork outside.

The loss of recess often falls on an entire class, meaning the crimes of the few or the many will result in the punishment of all.

This begs an interesting question: If a child is having trouble sitting still and focusing, does removing his or her time to step out of the classroom and take a break really foster better behavior?

Harrowgate Elementary started the 2018-2019 school year with a plan to have two 15-minute recesses instead of one 30-minute recess. The idea was intended to give two breaks for students, but the one-recess policy was reinstated before the school year ended.

There’s excessive travel time required to take kids outside and bring them back in for only 15 minutes. Then, of course, the children have to be calmed down and refocused once they return to the classroom.

Should these rules be countywide? If everyone agrees that these breaks in instructional time affect students, shouldn’t we get together and come to a consensus on how to use recess to impact them in the most positive way?

Many countries have begun pushing their public schooling into a more free-form learning environment. It’s difficult to find kids ages 5 to 11 doing something they love for more than an hour. Isn’t expecting them to focus on something that challenges them for six hours a day — with only breaks to eat — a bit extreme?

Although being completely free-form would seem to be a long way off for Chesterfield, children’s time for free-form thought and activity is important.
In regard to recess, we should have some sort standard guideline for all of our elementary schools to follow. Do you know your school’s policy?