Petition for Daily Recess in Guilford County Elementary Schools
Petition for Daily Recess in Guilford County Elementary Schools
We, the undersigned parents or legal guardians of Guilford County Elementary School students and Guilford County community members at large, believe that daily recess has a positive impact on learning and will benefit the physical, social, and emotional development of our children as well.
We support this petition for the following reasons:
1. Over 1/3 of Guilford County Elementary School children do not have daily, scheduled recess, including children as young as five years old.
2. While many schools have replaced recess with more instruction time over the last decade in order to improve students’ academic performance, there is no research that suggests this approach is effective. In fact, all available research indicates that increasing instruction time without providing appropriate breaks will have either no impact or a negative impact on learning. According to a review of research articles conducted by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, all studies found “one or more positive associations between recess and indicators of cognitive skills, attitudes, and academic behavior; none of the studies found negative associations.”
3. Many schools and school districts that previously reduced recess time are bringing it back as part of the daily schedule because research shows that it plays a critical role in learning and overall child development, and parents value it as an important part of their children’s school day.
4. Breaks from concentration are crucial to learning. The brain needs down time in order to be able to process more information. All people, especially young children, need breaks in order to be productive. Changing activities or subjects does not provide the required break.
5. Children are better behaved and more focused after recess. Recent studies have shown that children are more focused, on-task and better behaved after recess. Recess is especially helpful to children with attention deficit disorder.
6. Recess is important for social development. During recess children create their own games, learn how to resolve conflicts with one another, practice negotiating skills, and bond with their friends. Fewer and fewer children have the opportunity to do this outside of school.
7. Recess promotes physical activity, which is closely linked to cognitive development and function.
8. The health of our children is at risk. With 1 in every 3 children in North Carolina being either overweight or obese according to the NC State Center for Health Statistics, we need to take every opportunity to improve the health of our children. Research shows that children who have more opportunities for physical activity in school are more likely to be active outside of school as well. Daily recess is one of the most efficient ways to increase the daily activity level and physical health of our children.
9. Recess motivates children to go to school. Recess is the only time that children can socialize and play freely together. Having recess to look forward to as part of every school day has a positive effect on many children’s attitude toward school.
10. Unstructured physical play reduces stress. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends unstructured physical play as a developmentally appropriate means of reducing stress in children’s lives. Studies show that stress has a negative impact on learning as well as on health. Recess is a break from the structure and expectations of the classroom and gives children the opportunity to choose their activities.
11. Physical education (P.E.) and recess are both important, but neither one is a substitute for the other. The days on which Guilford County Elementary School students do not have scheduled recess are the days that they have P.E. However, P.E. forms part of the educational curriculum and is a structured class where students need to follow directions. It is also often held indoors. Recess, by definition, is a break from instruction, and the many benefits that accrue from it are directly related to it being unstructured time.
12. Daily, unstructured recess is supported by several national organizations, including the following:
National Association for the Education of Young Children
American School Health Association
National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Association for Sport and Physical Education
We understand that the goal of Guilford County School administrators is to provide the best possible education for our children. We appreciate their efforts and recognize the complexities of the public education system. However, we feel that eliminating recess on one or more days per week in order to increase instruction time will not improve the education of our children and is ultimately counterproductive to the goal of developing our children into well-rounded, healthy, creative and productive citizens. Well-timed recess is much more likely to have a positive impact on learning and will benefit our children in important other ways.
We, the undersigned, petition the Guilford County Board of Education to establish a policy to ensure a minimum of one daily scheduled recess period for all students in Guilford County Elementary Schools (K-5). Recess should be a period of supervised, unstructured play time held outside whenever possible and provided at a time that serves as a break in the students’ instructional day.
Recess and the importance of play - download file
NY times: Recess is crucial to learning
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Principals say recess boosts learning
Physical activity boosts academic success
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CDC: Recess helps, does not harm academics
ASHA: Schools should provide daily recess
Recess and P.E. both important, not the same
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