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  • Sarina Shirazee

Don't Take Away Recess!

“Recess serves as a necessary break from the rigours of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom. Equally important is the fact that safe and well-supervised recess offers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical benefits that may not be fully appreciated when a decision is made to diminish it. The American Academy of Paediatrics believes that recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons." - American Academy of Paediatrics (link to the full article:⠀

So...what consequences can be enforced instead of taking away recess, when a child displays undesirable behaviour? What I would suggest talking. Every problem behaviour has an underlying thought or feeling, and the behaviour is often difficult for a child to control due to the fact that they have an under-developed prefrontal cortex. ⠀

Once you find the root of the problem, it becomes easier to address. Hungry? Tired? Sad? Lonely? Unseen? Unheard? Tough time at home? Sore leg? Being bullied? Itchy clothes tag? Worried about a sick family member? Didn’t get the coloured pencil they wanted? You’d be surprised by how many of these (valid) feelings can result in “misbehaviour”. ⠀

Once you figure out what the underlying problem is, you will probably want to (and should) address it with empathy, rather than punishment. You can then let the child know that you’re there to help them next time.⠀

And if you don’t figure out what the problem is? It doesn’t really matter. Kids do well if they can (credit to Ross Greene for this term). Punishment and/or taking away privileges won’t solve the problem, no matter what it is.⠀

So that’s actually it. That’s all I’d do. Talk, empathise, then talk and empathise some more (or just talk and empathise very briefly, teachers, as I know you already have an unreasonable amount to do...)⠀

Try to remember that the kids who you might be tempted to take away recess from, are usually the kids who need it the most. "Misbehaviour" is often "stress behaviour".


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