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Recess is a lot like school lunch: Some kids get lasagna with an organic green salad, some get a burrito out of a box, and some do without. Like lunch, who gets recess—and who gets good recess—is often determined by what school district a student lives in.
Inequity doesn't have to be baked into recess—or lunch.
Recess - Part - School - Day - Rebecca
"Recess is an essential but often neglected part of the school day," said Rebecca London, author of the new book Rethinking Recess: Creating Safe and Inclusive Playtime for All Children in School. "Every child needs recess, but recess is not distributed equitably."
Students of color, low-income students, and students in urban areas are less likely to get recess at all, or they get less recess, said London, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
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Withholding recess is the most common discipline meted out in elementary school, according to London. "It's so common, people don't even think about it," she said.
But that practice flies in the face of evidence that recess attends to all the developmental needs of a child, offering opportunities for physical activity, the development of social and emotional skills like collaboration and empathy, and enhanced potential for academic success.
Recess - Principles - Safety - Inclusion - Students
"When recess is built around principles of safety and inclusion, students learn to self-regulate their emotions and resolve conflicts that arise during the course of play," she said. "When a child loses a game on the playground, they learn about anger management and working together with peers—and adults. Kids can practice these skills in real time. Recess is an unregulated space. It's not like the classroom."
Moreover, recess gives students the opportunity to demonstrate respect and empathy for others and to establish positive relationships with peers and adults.
Recess - Program - London - Afterthought
"A well-administered recess is the best anti-bullying program there is," said London. "It shouldn't be an afterthought...
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