Ask the average child their favorite subject and they’ll tell you it’s recess. There are so many documented benefits to recess for kids. So why are so many kids still missing recess as a consequence?
And what can you, as a parent, do to help prevent this?
It can seem like a hugely daunting task, confronting the teacher or school. But you’ll be doing what’s right for your child.
What To Do If Your Child Is Still Missing Recess
First, let’s talk about some reasons that kids might miss recess. These are all pretty common reasons.
- Missing work: in-class assignments, homework, unfinished tests
- Consequences for misbehavior or rule breaking
That’s pretty much it.
Here’s the issue: the kids that frequently have missing work or have trouble toeing the line often need the release of recess the most. We’re talking about kids with ADHD, ASD, OCD, and SLD. All kids that have trouble concentrating on work and controlling impulses.
Using recess as a consequence is so incredibly counterproductive. It is the very last thing that should be taken away.
But You Can Do Something About It
First, it’s important to get some facts to bolster your case.
- Recess helps provide a release for kids, getting out excess energy
- Releasing energy allows kids to return to class with a renewed focus
- Releasing energy helps with impulse control
- Releasing energy helps with focus and following directions
These are all facts born out in repeated studies.
You’ll want to read up on the recess stats. It will help you have a more productive conversation later.
- The Importance of Play from the NCBI
- Recess Rules from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- The Crucial Role of Recess from the AAP
- Withholding Recess as a Punishment Declines from EdWeek
Have a Conversation with School
This is going to be a tough subject to bring up. Teachers and principals might get defensive. That’s why you’ll want to be strong and respectful. Yes, at the same time. It’s not going to be easy.
First, you’ll want to go in prepared. Start with a script. Lay out exactly what you are asking for and why you’re asking.
I would like to end the practice of using recess as a consequence for my child.
After you explain what you want, you know, the recess thing, you’ll want to go into why. Explain the research, referencing the articles linked above. Share exactly how having recess consistently helps improve school generally.
Then go into specifics about your child, explaining how having recess benefits your child in particular.
When my child is forced to skip recess, s/he is more likely to (lose focus, act up, fidget, cause a distraction, be distracted, etc.).
Remind the school about situations where your child has had trouble concentrating, and how the issues escalated if recess was missed. Or how the afternoon improved after recess.
Ask the teacher, point blank, that recess no longer be used as a consequence for your child. Instead, offer up other suggestions.
Get more insight about creating meeting plans with Talk to the Teacher!
Other Consequences Besides Recess
Natural consequences have been shown time and again to have the most impact, especially if applied immediately. Basically, the punishment should fit the crime.
Make a mess, clean it up. Fail to focus, finish the work later.
There are tons of ways to help kids feel the weight of actions and decisions without withholding the one time a day that they get to let off steam.
For kids that are not super frequent fliers missing recess, offering up these alternatives might help them. But what about kids that are missing recess all the time. We’re talking three or more recess consequences every week.
If that’s the case, it’s time to take a deeper look at what’s really going on.
Special Education + Missing Recess Consequences
Let’s be real: if your child can’t get it done in the allotted time, either at home or at school, it’s probably not going to get done. Extending the assignment a little bit might help some, but it’s not a fix 100% of the time.
Instead, if your child is having a hard time consistently with focusing, controlling impulses, and finishing work, it’s time to explore other options.
There are tons of simple accommodations and modifications that you can ask for that won’t add work for the teacher.
You can try:
- Modified or shortened work assignments
- Assignment exemptions
- Extended deadlines for assignments and tests
These changes can help the teacher assess what your child knows while making it more likely that they’ll be successful in school.
Get Extra Help For Your Child
Asking that recess not be used as a consequence is pretty major. And it can be scary.
But you do not have to go it alone!
Let’s chat about ways that I can help you make this request. As a parent coach and advocate, I’m used to navigating these tricky waters and making big asks. I’mm help you find the right talking points and negotiate for the benefit of your child.