Taking Away Recess as Punishment – Does it Help?

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  • “77 percent of school principals report that they withhold recess as punishment, even as they simultaneously sing the praises of recess as a factor in academic, cognitive, and social development.
  • 8 in 10 principals acknowledge that time to play has a positive impact on achievement, and
  • two-thirds of principals state that students listen better after recess and are more focused in class.”

– reported in a New York Times Article Students Who Lose Recess Are the Ones Who Need It Most.

According to the article that quotes Michele Borba, an educational psychologist and former teacher, students who are kept in at recess stand to lose:

1. Brain power
2. Connection with peers
3. Relationship with teachers
4. Opportunities to learn a different behavior

Read the complete article here: https://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/13/students-who-lose-recess-are-the-ones-who-need-it-most/

The Crucial Role of Recess in School

In 2013, The American Academy of Pediatrics updated it’s Policy Statement.

Recess is a crucial and necessary component of a child’s development and, as such, it should not be withheld for punitive or academic reasons.

The Crucial Role of Recess in School

Read the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) Position Statement Physical Activity Used as Punishment and/or Behavior Management.

SHAPE opposes administering or withholding physical activity as a form of punishment and/or behavior management … and addresses the inappropriate use of or withdrawal from physical activity as a disciplinary consequence, both within and outside of the school environment.

Read More

Taking Away Recess as Punishment – Find a Better Way by Parent Advocate Sharon Lutz. Sharon describes how a creative team can help a child have a positive experience instead of a negative one.

Quiz: How Much Recess Does Your Child Get Each Day?

Play Deprivation and Behavior Problems

Struggling During Recess and Other Activities? Address PBIS in the IEP

Physical Activity Other Than Physical Education – State Policies on Recess or Physical Activity Breaks – from the National Association of State Boards of Education.

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Josephine

I just found out that my child is losing recess and lunch each day. I am furious with his teacher. He has Autism and he needs to stem so he flaps and play with his fingers. Teacher does not like that so she keeps in at lunch recess. She even makes him face the wall away from peers so they do not have to be distracted. I have tried talking with the teacher and the principal and got no where. They say that they are allowed to take his lunch recess away. i say that he needs to connect with peers to help form friendship but they say the peers don’t like him. I tried complaining to Special Education Director and Super Intendant and they were not helpful at all. What should I do next?

Peter

What an awful way for a teacher to behave! “They say the peers don’t like him…” because the teacher isn’t willing or able to show his peers how awesome he is!!! They take their cues from their teachers…

Look for a parent advocate to advise you. I don’t know what state you are in but in Ohio we have access to free assistance from a variety of organizations and disability rights groups.

“Stemming” is a common criterion for diagnosing autism (repetitive behaviors); it’s part of the who your son is. You can’t punish a child for having a disability, which is clearly what they are doing.

Does your son have an IEP? Stemming can be a sign of stress. An IEP could support him with sensory breaks etc. For HIS benefit though, not because the teacher doesn’t like it.

Chuck

Your state parent training and information center can tell you about your options to deal with this situation. Federal rules say that students with disabilities are to have access to extracurricular activities. https://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

Sydney

My son is always losing recess. He has ADHD and has trouble focusing. Because of that he does not always get his classwork done. Teacher makes him stay in at recess to finish his work. She even punishes him for not doing his homework. I have tried complaining talking I just don’t know what to do. He has no connection with his peers and they seem fine with that.

Chuck

You can complain up the “chain of command” and perhaps someone will agree that this is not appropriate. If the child has an IEP, you can use the IDEA dispute resolution processes to address this situation. Your state parent training and information project can assist you also. https://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/

frustrated mom

I just found out that my son’s teacher is taking away recess from him (he is 5 and in a MID self-contained classroom) and making him sweep classrooms and clean tables. At the beginning of the year I had a meeting with the principal because the teacher would take the other students outside for recess and leave my child to sit in the clinic (he has severe asthma and we live in the south). It was determined that the class could have recess in the gym so my child could benefit from the socialization and activity. I don’t know what to do. I have had county personal come out to speak with the teacher to no avail. I was wondering if anyone has been successful writing a child must get recess in an IEP.

Chuck

Your parent training and information center may be able to give you some suggestions. http://www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center

Shelly

I”m sorry, how is this not common sense? if a child has ADHD, isn’t the LAST thing you want to do is take away their recess? I mean, come on people, this isn’t brain surgery.

Concernedmom3

Sadly, teachers and Principals are doing it every single day. Even to complete school work they can’t understand. And the schools are getting away with doing it.

Chastity

One of many reasons im here. Why do these teachers want to torture themselves? Not only is he on a 504 but it’s only going to make the stress increased on herself. If they aint allowed to shake them ants out their pants. My son tells me , mom my mind is everywhere. Its very difficult for me so early in the morning to do math. He’s gone through so much mental abuse by the school in the 5 yrs he’s been there. Teachers are the bullies here. I just recently i filed a complaint for retaliation against the school. They need to get it together. I am going to fight for smaller class sizes and adhd friendly teachers who are dedicated to teaching adhd kids and are trained on their needs and know how to encourage and teach with a passion that adhd kids love to learn from.