Is withholding recess a useful tactic for getting children to perform well and behave? Rae Pica at BAM! Radio hosted a recent show on the topic after hearing from a parent of a special education student who said her son’s teacher withholds recess for such infractions as not coloring or cutting the right way.
Melinda Bossenmeyer, founder of Peaceful Playgrounds, and Patte Barth of the Center for Public Education argued that the strategy is counterproductive. Bossenmeyer said recess actually helps children focus when they return to the classroom and helps them behave better. She said teachers (and this probably goes for parents, too) should focus on praising and encouraging the positive behavior they want to see, rather than the negative behavior they’re trying to deter.
Barth agreed, and noted that despite the research showing the benefits of recess, many school districts have been trimming it back. Barth said many high minority and high poverty schools have no recess at all. These are the schools that are struggling the most to improve test scores, so it may be understandable that district leaders are pushing for more time to be focused on academics. But our conversation last week suggests that the loss of recess could contribute to their lagging achievement, rather than helping it improve.