It's September - meaning most families routines are going through a big shift in the coming days (or maybe they have already!). We have been following Teacher Karen for a while now and are big fans of her message so we thought who better to invite to write a guest blog post about this time of the year? Without further ado...please read below and enjoy!
For most kids, September is synonymous with school. Classrooms across the country are filled with lots of reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic…and a lot of sitting for students! Years ago, it was the norm for elementary students to have two 10-20 minute recess periods in the morning and afternoon. They then had a third, longer recess period following lunch.
Things started changing in the late 1980s. At that time, schools began cutting back on the number and amount of time allotted for recess. The reason: Schools were being held accountable to test scores.
Focusing on how children get to school highlights another difference. Children nowadays are far less likely to walk or bike to and from school. Parents ensure their children are transported to school via bus OR, more likely, they drive them to school themselves. In doing so, it eliminates an easy opportunity for children to get in some regular, physical exercise.
1. Opted for more instructional time and, therefore, require children to sit for longer periods of time.
2. Made less time for recess, in their quest to provide more instruction time.
Given these two factors, is it any wonder that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends children have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity EVERY DAY! That should make recess an important part of the school day. In fact, recess makes a positive impact towards children’s overall health and well-being. So much so that the American Academy of Pediatrics believes recess should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.
Ideally, schools would partner with parents to ensure all children are reaching the recommended level of physical activity. Acquiring knowledge and skills are important and necessary components of education, however, ‘teaching to the test’ is short-sighted for both students and teachers.
When children PLAY during recess they are learning and growing in all areas of child development: physically, socially, cognitively and emotionally. Recess helps children, for example, to develop socially, learning:
◦communication skills including negotiation
Since the reduction in recess was ostensibly to bolster test scores, it’s imperative to note it’s been shown recess actually improves cognitive function and performance; making children more attentive and more productive in the classroom.
What’s your child’s school policy on recess? Is it in one of the 16% of states that require elementary schools to provide daily recess? If so, you will need to advocate for your child’s needs. Unite with parents, PTAs and other organizations to insist children are allowed the time and freedom for recess!
About the Author:
Karen Whittier, better known as Teacher Karen, is an Early Childhood Engineer and Play Specialist for Play & Grow. Play & Grow provides parents with development products and resources to create PLAY-based, hands-on learning activities for their children. Play & Grow also offers toy and book reviews and recommendations to aid parents in choosing just the right products to meet their child’s needs.
With her experience as an engineer plus early childhood educator, in addition to being a parent, and now a grandparent, she knows the value and POWER of PLAY. PLAY is the WAY young children learn BEST!
Teacher Karen looks forward to sharing meaningful moments of PLAY (which really means learning) with families!