Cutting recess not the right answer to help schoolchildren
There is a growing focus on the issue of overweight children in our nation as approaches are sought to keep children more active in this era of electronic games and increased time spent before the television.
Even the Coca-Cola company joined in the campaign to increase awareness of the nation's weight problem this week with advertisements encouraging moderate use of sugary drinks and possible drink alternatives. Increased activity to burn off calories was also urged.
It is notable, then, that a new report is bringing awareness of a trend in our nation's schools to potentially decrease the activity levels of school children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) earlier this month published a position statement in the journal Pediatrics decrying the trend in schools to eliminate some recess periods, a time when youths typically go outside to play or take a “mental break” from their academic activities.
The doctors say recess is vital to keeping children physically healthy and mentally sharp.
Schools are being pressured to increase academic achievement and for some officials the answer is to keep them in class longer by reducing or eliminating recess time. Another reason for the trend is fear of lawsuits over accidents on the playground. A poll also found many principals like to use denial of recess as a punishment for some misdeeds by students.
All these reasons are wrongheaded and counterproductive to the education process, as well as potentially harmful to the well-being of youngsters, according to AAP.
In reality, studies have shown students are more attentive and academically productive when they have recess.
And health studies have shown that even small amounts of activity can counterbalance the sedentary lifestyle of many of today's children and help lower the risk of becoming overweight.
Reducing recess time in our schools is exactly the opposite approach to what needs to be done. If anything, more activity time needs to be part of the school day for children.