One of the most “popular” forms of punishment for bad behavior in the schools is sitting out of recess. Glance at any elementary school during recess time and chance are, you’ll see a handful of kids standing by a wall because they are in trouble.
Losing recess is a quick and convenient punishment for kids who are misbehaving, but is it actually beneficial for anyone? No. Kids do need consequences BUT there are much more effective ways than losing recess. Find out the why teachers should never take away recess and get some ideas for alternate punishments to use instead.
Reason #1- Recess can improve classroom behaviors
There are plenty of research studies that have concluded that recess helps to improve fidgety and off task behaviors. One study highlighted that fidgety time increased the longer recess was delayed and decreased after recess time had ended. Kids who are constantly fidgety (which are often incorrectly thought of as misbehaving and consequently in trouble) can especially benefit from recess.
Reason #2- Recess can improve attention in the classroom
According to a 2013 study, controlled experiments have shown that children who have recess breaks show increased alertness in academic tasks in the classroom. It’s sadly ironic that the children who often lose their recess time for “not paying attention in class” are the ones that need the breaks the most.
Reason #3- Recess can improve various school skills
Playground equipment contains an abundance of academic benefits. For examples, monkey bars build fine motor skills needed for better handwriting and cutting. The swings provide vestibular input which improves coordination and an internal rhythm needed in reading fluency. There are many other links between playground equipment to academic performance found in this post here.
Reason #4- Recess can improve test scores
Missing out on recess can negatively effect test scores? Although there are a lot of factors that can affect test scores, there have been studies showing direct correlations between increased physical activity and achievement on academic testing.
Reason #5- Recess can improve social skills
Chances are, many of the kids who are frequently in trouble are also having difficulty communicating appropriately with peers or teachers. These are the kids who often don’t know how to resolve conflicts or problem solve on their own. Recess time helps to develop those essential social skills because kids are placed in an unstructured situation that requires them to interact, problem solve, resolve conflicts, take turns, and engage in imaginary play with each other.
Alternatives Ideas to Losing Recess
- Instead of “sitting out” of recess, have the student walk laps or do exercises during recess time
- Have the student miss time from a more sedentary classroom reward such as a movie or free choice screen time
- Assign that student to “clean up duty” after recess by running to pick up all the balls and equipment left on the playground
- Have the student write an apology note for inappropriate actions
- Have the student do “classroom jobs” such as washing blackboards, organizing books, sharpening pencils, etc…
Keep those ideas coming for alternative ideas to losing recess in the comment section below and as always, thanks for reading and INVESTING in your child!