Elementary School Recess Danger Zone or Healthy Socialization

Recess has been, and always will be, a time for children to socialize outside of the confines of a structured classroom setting. It is unfortunate that people are referring to recess  a “danger zone.” There are countless benefits to recess, compared with very few detriments.

Children need the freedom to interact with each other. They need to learn to speak to their peers and develop communication skills. Humans as a whole are social beings and expecting children to be locked in a classroom, unable to freely communicate for eight hours a day is unrealistic at best and socially irresponsible.

The average attention span for children is typically the same as the age of the child. For example, a nine year old has an attention span of roughly nine minutes. The average attention span for adults in only twenty minutes so expecting a child to sit in a classroom for hours a day with no physical and mental relief is counterproductive. They simply cannot learn in that type of environment.

Aside from the social and educational aspects, eliminating recess would take away much needed physical exercise. In the United States there is a growing problem with obesity in children and adults. The majority of parents seem to feel that society and the television are responsible for raising their children. Parents have abandoned worthwhile physical and social activities with their children. Instead of promoting a healthy lifestyle with activities such as hiking, swimming, bicycling, organized sports, recreational sports, playing outside with friends, etc., children are often forced to stay indoors and occupy their time watching television or surfing the internet. The schools owe it to those children to allow them to participate in physical activities during a recess period.

Are there inherent dangers associated with recess? Yes, anyone who says that there are no dangers is naïve and probably never experienced a good game of dodge ball. Well if you were in elementary school during the last 10-15 years, you may not have even had the opportunity to play dodge ball. Schools around the country have banned several games because they deem them “unsafe.” It is unfortunate with all of the lawsuits and lack of personal responsibility in society today, the children end up suffering. It is society’s fault we live in a world where children grow up weak. Children used to play with metal toys, run around outside and skin their knees, get hit in the head playing dodge ball, get into fights on the playground, fall of the swings, etc. Children got hurt and learned to overcome pain and adversity. In today’s world, so many parents are far too overprotective. It leads to weak kids that are unable to protect themselves from the dangers of the world.

There are other articles talking about how children are on playgrounds talking about how they wanted to change body “defects,” and the threat of bullying. Parents need to actually teach their children morals, values, and how to stand up for themselves, which should be done before and throughout their time at school. As a parent, one must teach their children to think for themselves and recess is where they have the opportunity to practice communicating those thoughts and ideas and express their creativity. Bullying is a part of growing up. Eliminating recess will never prevent bullying. Parents need to teach their children ways to manage it, whether that be physically or mentally. Enroll children in martial arts where they learn to defend themselves, but also to respect others. It is the job of the parent to reinforce ideas of respect and integrity. If that sounds too “combative” or “barbaric,” then teach your children the old “sticks and stones” method. Just stop the blame game and the, “it’s everyone elses fault” mentality.  

Parents and society need to learn that physical and mental struggle is a necessary part of growing up. Recess is not a “danger zone!” The only danger is the perpetuation of bad parenting that has been a growing trend in the last 10-15 years. Parents need to take a long hard look at themselves and their parenting skills, or lack thereof, before criticizing a foundation of child development such as recess. Recess has, and always will be, an essential part of a child’s development and hopefully will not be eliminated thanks to social irresponsibility.