Help This Mom Fight New School Rule: NO RUNNING AT RECESS

Here hbybzesirh
you , folks. Let’s give this mom some ammo! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: My son’s school district has just instituted a no running policy during recess.  I am, of course, appalled by this, feeling that the kids need to be able to blow off a little steam during those 10 minutes of their day.  Plus, kids need more exercise, not less.  What’s next, no running for soccer/baseball/lacrosse practice?

Every other parent I have spoke to in our district about this is also opposed to the policy.  I am ready to organize a fight to get our kids running again.  I was hoping you would have some advice of the best plan of action.  Would a petition, letter to the editor, barrage of emails, all of the above be the most effective? Thank you for any advice. – Rarin’ to Go Mama

What a dangerous activity these children are engaged in!

92 Responses to Help This Mom Fight New School Rule: NO RUNNING AT RECESS

  1. baby-paramedic November 11, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    initially, arrange a meeting with the principal. You and one or two calm parents CALMLY approach the issue and ask for the policy to be overturned. If no joy with this, a week later unleash as above.

  2. Library Diva November 11, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Since it’s district-wide, find out when the next board meeting is and organize as many people to attend as possible. Before you go, find out what the public comment policy is, if they have one. Some districts (believe it or not, so undemocratic I know, but it’s true) require you to call ahead and let them know what topic you want to speak on, and others don’t allow off-agenda comments. Follow the policy, and unleash hell. Bring your kids, if you can, and have them tell the board how this policy is affecting them.

    Find out the email and physical mailing address for the superintendant and as many board members as you can. Encourage all these parents you’ve spoken with to contact the board and to have their children do so as well — this is not only an effective tactic, but a great teachable moment for kids. Also, it couldn’t hurt to talk to teachers about this and see if you can get any on your side that are also willing to attend and speak out.

    I don’t think it can hurt to contact the media. I used to cover school boards on occasion, and I absolutely would have written about something like this. If you have a community newspaper, contact the editor and let them know what’s going on a couple of days before the meeting. That way, if your school board isn’t routinely covered, it gives them enough time to find someone who can go.

    Good luck. The people who made this decision need to hear from you. Sadly, I’m guessing it was made in nearly a total vaccuum: a couple of people were able to lay out a case for this, no one showed up to oppose, and it was voted into policy. I hope you can get it overturned. When a local municipality was considering a skateboard ban in part of the village, they changed their minds after 200 teens and parents attended a meeting to speak against it.

  3. Donna November 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    First question is, is this truly a school district policy and not an individual school policy?

    If so, the problem is more difficult since it will need to be altered by the school board or superintendent and not at school level. And will take some cooperation among schools.

    My suggestion is for someone CALM to set up a meeting with principal and find the real genesis of this rule – school or school board – and if your school can circumvent it. If not, I’d suggest that your PTA reach out to the other PTAs in the district to see if you can all present a unified front at the next school board meeting to address the problem. I bet that there are some like-minded teachers and administration that you can get on board as well. If that fails, then do the above.

  4. Peter November 12, 2012 at 12:41 am #

    What’s next, no running for soccer/baseball/lacrosse practice?

    I gotta admit, it’s an amusing mental image. I’d actually like to see a “walking” soccer game… 😀

  5. Gina November 12, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    When I read stuff like this, my first response is: Dear God–the world has finally lost its collective mind.

  6. SKL November 12, 2012 at 12:51 am #


    Remember when people started suing the schools for graduating them without having taught them to read?

    Maybe we need some chubby folks to sue the schools for policies that make them fat. This policy is that ridiculous.

  7. Jennifer November 12, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    Before looking for a fight, have you tried a polite phone call to the principal? How about modeling a respectful, calm response before writing letters to the newspaper? Children need us to be good role models who can calmly and thoughtfully advocate for them, not jump to conclusions and fly off the handle unnecessarily.

  8. MMP November 12, 2012 at 1:38 am #

    I would be much less calm than several people have suggested. I would get as many parents together as possible, and go at this, full steam ahead. First, determine who made this rule, and then bombard that person/group with emails, snail mail, phone calls and text messages. I would also contact the local media–newspaper, local news channels, and even radio shows. Also, with Michelle Obama’s huge focus on childhood obesity and her “Let’s Move!” campaign, why not have all of the parents bombard the White House, specifically the First Lady with letters, emails and phone calls? Let’s Move! has a great website with TONS of info you can print out and arm yourself with to argue your case to the school or principal or board that made this stupid, crazy and fear-based self-serving, kid-punishing rule!

  9. Kimberly November 12, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    1st find out the reason. I know that 99% of the time the reasons are stupid, but sometimes due to weather there can be valid reasons.

    Last year we had a similar policy due to drought damage to the play area. Old swamp/rice fields soil of black gumbo soil do not respond well to 100 degree days and months without rain. I had a student fall into a “crack” in the ground up to her hip with one leg in and one leg out. Another kid dropped his glasses down a crack, I was flat on the ground reaching into the crack with my hand and couldn’t reach them. I’m 5′ 11″ with long arms and fingers. Kids had to be restricted to the blacktop and track until we got enough rain that the ground “healed” and the cracks went away.

    If there no valid reason get a bunch of parents to show up at board meetings, call/write/e-mail board members let them know this is unacceptable. If you aren’t on the site based committee for the school – join. (I think they are mandated nationwide under NCLB)

  10. Earth.W November 12, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    No running is common at Australian schools. Those which have grassland and fields to run on even make the area out of bounds, then the teachers complain having unruly children in the classroom. Go figure!

  11. Captain America November 12, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    The homeschooling crowd/movement really starts to make sense once one reads of these kinds of Escapades of Authority. . . and add to that whatever nonsense results from the PC stuff, and it really makes sense.

  12. Nic November 12, 2012 at 3:44 am #

    Perhaps Michelle Obama could advocate for you!

  13. Warren November 12, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    Whether it is the board, district or just the school, give them the diplomatic chance to reverse their rule. Not explain, or justify……reverse. If there is no change, start with the Mayor, and just keep going up the political food chain.

    In the meantime, personally I would inform my child that we support them, on this. If they wanted to continue running, then go ahead, and that I am prepared to right notes of permission, and go into the office everyday, to fight for their right to run. Sometimes, this form of rule breaking can be viewed as a peaceful protest.

    We do not want to raise our kids to blindly follow stupidity. We want them to know what is right, what is wrong, what is smart, and what is insane. That they can use their own judgement.

  14. Cynthia November 12, 2012 at 5:12 am #

    Good grief! Why on earth would a whole district institute such a thing? Aren’t obesity rates among children high enough? You say they banned running during “recess” … does this mean the kids are allowed to run at lunchtime? I wonder if your principal (and teachers) support the policy. I agree with the others who suggested that you should start with the principal and then go from there. I’m amazed at the comment that “no running” is commonplace in Australian schools. Times sure have changed when I taught there in the late 90s.

  15. Ann in L.A. November 12, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    10 MINUTES?!?!?!?!?

  16. John November 12, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    This is beyond ridiculous. If I were you, I’d try getting this story out in the national spotlight. Considering how utterly stupid a no running rule outside during recess is, I don’t think it would be difficult to get a major news organization to cover it. So with that being the case, I’d write letters to CNN, Fox News and MSNBC and I’ll bet that at least one of those news organizations will at least put it out on their front page and maybe even make mention of it on TV. If a stupid rule like this is revealed to the entire United States along with the school district trying to implement it, they might think twice before instituting this rule. Especially if all they get is negative reaction from around the country which I’m sure they would!

  17. Eliza November 12, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    @earthw. I have taught in australian schools and the schools i have been at have never banned running. The only place you cant run is around buildings, but each schools have had hard courts, 1 -3 playgrounds and an oval. Plenty of opportunity to run. Must admit some rules.can be silly and most.teachers use common sence when enforcing these rules. I agree no running policy should not be part of any school.

  18. linvo November 12, 2012 at 6:35 am #

    I think I agree with the rational and calm approach first (though in real life, I might be more impulsive!). I would put together a considered response detailing why you think this policy is harmful to kids and present this to the person or authority who is responsible for the policy.

    If that doesn’t work, get together with the like-minded parents and get them to write or attend meetings. Only if that doesn’t work would I involve the media and politicians.

    And Earth.W, I live in Canberra and have never heard of a no running rule in any school here. At my daughter’s school they are allowed to use the school oval from year 2 upwards (the younger once have to stick to the play areas closer to the school). There are no fences anywhere around the school either.

  19. mollie November 12, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    No running in the hallways, check.

    No running at recess? Crock.

  20. Captain America November 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    If school districts were truly serious about wanting to avert undue injury, they should throw football on the scrap heap!

    I remember being back home and drinking in a local bar, running into old friends and comparing notes. You wouldn’t believe how many of us retained old injuries from high school sports. . . and the worst by far damager was football.

    Heck, no kids in my neigborhood played the sport—too complicated to understand and too dangerous. But the new for-profit leagues now have little kids padded out. . . against all evidence of the sports danger to kids.

  21. greg November 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Forget petitions and meetings. Organize the parents and kids. The kids as a group need to deliberately and blatently run races until they are all busted. Then more kids need to. And then again the next day. And the parents have to sit back and support their kids and encourage the rule breaking. After a few days the parents should come stand outside the fence at recess time and cheer the racers. Do it until every kid is suspended fir it then write a letter to the editor signed by all the parents and kids ridiculing the policy and demanding its repeal and the records expunged.

  22. Terry November 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    USE DATA. There is a ton of research that indicates that vigorous exercise improves learning. It stimulates the neurotransmitters in your brain and helps them grow which helps you LEARN. Not only that, it improves ADD/ADHD symptoms, it reduces depression, and it is good for your physical health. Teachers have noted – and measured! – that their students learn better after physical activity that gets their heart rate up.
    Here’s one article I saw recently, but there is a lot of information out there like this:
    Check out the Ratey Institute as well, which has information on studies specific to children and exercise and learning. We should be raising hell if the schools suggest eliminating recess in order to have more classroom time, which is what some are doing in order to try to improve test scores. They’re going about it all wrong.

  23. Taradlion November 12, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

    Gotta disagree on the banning football thing. My dad has been a high school football coach for 40 years and both my brothers played. Yes, some kids get injured, but unless you are going to ban things like skiiing and other sports with “higher risk of injury” too, I think sports should be left alone. I am not arguing that no one gets hurt, but the worst sport related injury in my personal experience was to a child who lost sight in one eye from a baseball in a little league game…total freak accident. My cousin had knee surgery after an injury in lacrosse, a classmate of my daughter had a concussion from running into a teammate playing soccer…injuries happen, all of them went back to play their sport after recovery. Accidents and injuries happen. It is impossible to eliminate all risk, it should be up to an individual (or parent) to ASSESS risk and decide if it is a risk worth taking.

    (For the record, my dad thinks my son should wait for football with pads until he at least 12 as my brothers did. My son, age 8, currently is a wrestler, plays flag football, and drives go karts -and for go kart camp I signed 4 different waivers. It is just his personality.)

    As for no running at recess, all I can think about is how off the wall all the kids were when we had indoor recess because of weather as kids (think blizzard or sideways downpours- otherwise we were outside and school was almost NEVER cancelled)…anyway, if my 8 year old could not burn off some energy he would be a basket-case…a big fat basket-case….I also can picture him “speed walking” and pushing the line on what is considered “running”.

  24. Sally November 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    Ugh. Have no more advice to add, just good luck to wish. I can however, fulfill one request. Peter, feast your eyes. Germany vs. Greece, philosophers, that is:

  25. Patricia November 12, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    From what I understand it is district wide, which is actually only two elementary schools. I am waiting on a response from a neighbor who is on the school board. I am also waiting on a response from my son’s principal. Since it is a holiday weekend I don’t expect anything from him until tomorrow. The explanation I heard from what another parent was told at the other elementary school from ours was that the kids were running into each other too much and hitting their heards on the playground equipment. I could see not letting them run around the equipment if they gave them anywhere else to be for recess. I will update when I have some answers.

  26. Violet November 12, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Is this research based? What is the concern? You can google the benefits of exercise on test scores and cognition and present it to them. They only care about test scores and getting sued so you have to convince them that running helps the test. They don’t care at all if your child is fat or that they are sending your kid home with pent up energy. What other outlets do they get during the day for exercise? Do they have PE everyday?

  27. Lollipoplover November 12, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

    With only 10 MINUTES for recess, I’m surprised they don’t just have the kids march in formation around the prison yard.

  28. Selby November 12, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    Organize a run-in.

  29. Emily November 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    This is what recess should look like (after the annoying lipstick ad, that is):

  30. Lee November 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Everything Library Diva said above, but organize all the info (addresses, email, names, etc) on to a sheet of paper and make a bunch of copies. Have it ready to hand out to whoever you talk about.

    Set up a separate gmail account for yourself for this endeavor. Put your name and that email at the bottom of the page and leave it in conspicuous spots where admin and council members will see it. Put a face to the tactic as soon as possible. They will discount the reaction to it until they see real faces.

  31. Warren November 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Come to think of it, did the school give the parents any say in this? Were they polite enough to be diplomatic, or did they just go ahead and do it, and basically say deal with it?

    If they haven’t given you the opportunity to review, comment, or advise, then they do not deserve the same consideration. Besides, it seems ridiculous that to possibly get this rule changed, you will have to go through great expense and time.
    Since it is district wide, go straight for the top. Don’t mess around. Call, email, or whatever the highest possible political office with the following.
    “This is what is going on. I expect to hear from you within the week, so that we can resolve this issue. If I do not hear from you in this time frame, I will be going to the media. They will be informed of the problem, and that you apparently do not care enough to get involved. Thank you, and looking forward to hearing from you.”

  32. Anne November 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    OK, so if talking calmly and/or an e-mail/mail/phone campaign doesn’t work and this ridiculous rule is kept in place, what to do? I think I would write an excused absence note for the time period that recess is held. I would give it to my son every day to give to his teacher. Then every day, I would pick him up and take him to the nearest park to play and run to his little heart’s content! He might be the only one with any kind of attention span after “recess”, but hey, maybe this will leave the teachers more time to deal with all of the other kids who are looking for somewhere to release all of their energy and general craziness. Of course, I’m really hoping this school or school district sees how backwards this rule is and changes it soon. Good luck!

  33. Lollipoplover November 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    @Selby- that’s a great idea!
    Does this school have a running club? There are many you can organize- try irun4life. Some have the kids track their mileage and they can run perimeters at recess. They collect keychain feet as they increase their mileage that they collect and can show off on their backpacks.
    They can also run freely when playing games. Yes, there are sometimes collisions. Kids need PRACTICE to develop running and stopping coordination. I cannot understand why anyone would ban this!

  34. Megan November 12, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Get some well respected local pediatricians involved too, so they can testify to the fact that kids need exercise and banning running will HURT them.

  35. SKL November 12, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    I have to say that one good thing about having an old-fashioned teacher at an old-fashioned school is that the kids are dragged out to recess several times a day in all sorts of weather. It may not be coincidence that the average student there scores years ahead of the national average. (I’m talking about my kids’ parochial school.)

  36. Shannon November 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

    I agree – armed with information about how much movement children actually need each day in order to stay fit and to stave off the obesity epidemic, I can’t imagine how the district’s position could not be swayed. Failing this, I would put it onto the school district to figure out how children will get the one hour per day of physical activity each day. Children at my sons’ school must have 1/2 hour of phys ed each day and it’s a logistical nightmare for the school to make this happen because there is one gym for nearly 800 kids. It might help also to have a teacher share how reduced activity at recess affects childrens performance and behaviour in class.

  37. Michelle November 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm #

    As much as I am saddened by this rule, and hope the OP can get it worked out, I’m also saddened by the impulsiveness of a lot of the commenters. Really? Call CNN without more information and without trying to get it resolved first? I’ve noticed more people in general (not just here, but everywhere) freaking out about things, and I have no idea why people are starting to get so bitchy. Yes, this rule sucks, but try and work it out calmly and nicely first. If that doesn’t work, then bring out the big guns. Being nice will get you much further with people generally than not.

    And for the record, I would be über upset at this, and would be one of those people, while trying to get it fixed, who would write a permission slip to let my kid run.

  38. Yan Seiner November 12, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    If this is truly a district policy, then you have to get to the school board. Too often the school board is a bunch of people who don’t really understand all the impacts of they’re doing (I’ve served on boards, and as a volunteer without your own staff it’s nearly impossible to really get at all the issues around a problem).

    There has to be a valid reason for the policy. Too many injuries? Lawsuit? What caused it?

    If calm, reasoned arguments don’t hold, I’d bring a bunch of well-behaved kids who are into active sports to a meeting. Have them be little angels, hold up signs and make speeches about how important it is for kids to exercise.

    Next time, bring a bunch of unruly, sugared up kids who have not had any chance to blow off steam. Have them be disruptive and disrespectful. When the board complains, explain that this is what teachers will have to put up with under the new policy.

  39. Barbara November 12, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    This particular brand of craziness has been around for a long time. In the late 70’s I was in Jr. High and during lunch if you finished early you could go outside and stand. Another girl stole my comb from my back pocket and I inadvertently took two running steps before remembering we were not allowed to run. I ended up on the wall and I got two or three pops for it. 🙁

  40. Warren November 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    I understand what you are saying, in that going balls to the wall right away can be offensive to those you are dealing with, and may be counter productive.

    On the other hand this is exactly what this board did, to the kids and parents. They didn’t discuss this, open it to debate or anything. They just dictated that they are going to ban an activity that comes naturally to most kids.

    When dealing with people like this, I have found the best course of action to go straight for the top. When you get someone on the phone, you ask them, “Do you have a boss that you answer to?” As long as they keep answering “Yes”, you keep going up the food chain.
    Untill you get to the person who is the ultimate authority, and then you basically give them the choice, fix this insanity or pressure will be applied from media, higher levels of gov’t, advocates and the like.

    Remember to a school board this is a small recess rule, and to them will not warrant alot of time or effort in solving. Most times it will be put on the back burner, in hopes it fades away. You need to let them know upfront that you won’t go away, and when not if you return, it will be with allies.

  41. Kevin November 12, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I think the kids should take to very noticeably and sarcastically playing soccer, kickball, and anything else in slow motion. The could highlight the absurdity of the rule by taking it to it’s logical extreme and simply standing as still as possible right in front of the doors and windows until the administration gets the point that not running at recess is truly dumb.

    They should be encouraged to run as much as possible to wake them up and exercise their bodies. Kids need to move around and calmly walking for a few minutes doesn’t cut it.

  42. Yan Seiner November 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    @Kevin: Have them dress as Recess Zombies, complete with slow movements and drool. This has potential! 🙂

  43. sally November 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    I dis agree with the school having this sort of rule entirely. Sadly, though at my children’s school, we cannot afford to pay more than 2 “yard duty’s” and there are 300+ children running around. We do not have any grass for kids to run on, so they run on asphalt.

    With only my school in mind, this just means that there are more kids our individual school, less supervision and more injury-inducing recess areas.

    our school has just made a “no chasing” rule (which is half the reason kids run at recess)

    side note: our school (in Nor Cal) does not have swings anymore, because they’re too dangerous. 🙁

  44. Warren November 12, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    When we lived in Port Hope, Ont. The board had inspectors come around to the schools, and condem play structures. They wood ones were to be torn down, and replaced by new metal and plastic ones.
    With the principals permission, I was there to meet the inspector. I had him do his thing, while pointing out all the areas that didn’t meet code. His words, “This structure is to be removed by the Christmas Break.”
    I informed him, that by that time, it would be brought up to code. A matter of gabs being to wide, edges too sharp, the pipe rail on the metal slide was only half the required height., and we had sand, not gravel under and around it.
    I made a few phone calls, and because the area was also used by the community kids, the response was great.
    Local stores gave us some supplies, and sold us others at cost. A local welder donated his time and pipe to double the rail, and parents donated time and tools. A local company even donated the gravel.
    In two weeks we were up to code, to the dismay of the inspector. Who still insisted the new multi thousand dollar sets were better and safer.
    Total cost to the school…………$0.00. Parents and public gave money. Hell, a local diner brought us coffee and hot chocolate the two days of building.

    School boards are admistrators that work for us, not the other way around. We do not have to cave in, and take their word as law. They need to be reminded of this. Do not let them intimidate you. I have told a couple of them, that you may be able to tell a teacher or a principal what to do, as you are their employer. But I am basically your employer, so do not tell me what I can or cannot do.

  45. Jenny Islander November 12, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

    Wait a minute–OP, am I reading you right that there is only 1 10-minute recess at your child’s school?

    Back in the caveman days, we got 2 15-minute recess periods and we also had gym outdoors at every opportunity. And yet, somehow, civilization survived. I hate No Child Left Behind. I hate what it does to children.

  46. LRH November 12, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    As usual, I am with Warren. (The dogs topic was an exception, I hope we’re still cool.) You have rules you sort of semi-understand how they came up with them, even if you don’t altogether agree with them per se. You gently & suggestively go about change with such rules–heck, maybe with MOST rules.

    Then there are rules like this which are so ridiculous & so beyond outlandish they deserve no response other than a “blow the doors off the place” or “tear the roof off the sucka” kind of response. We’re talking about a response along the lines of “what, are you crazy,” the sort of “overwhelming demand” that causes them to reverse course because all of a sudden it’s all anyone’s talking about & the heat from it is totally unrelenting and is obviously going nowhere until it’s dealt with.

    This is one of those times.


  47. Michelle November 12, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    @Warren, did I miss the part where there was no discussion or debate? The original post doesn’t mention that at all, so wondering where that was mentioned.

  48. Gina November 12, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    @Warren: The peaceful protest is what I would suggest…and telling my own children they can run and will have our support!

  49. Sarah in WA November 12, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

    Jenny Islander, I agree. When I taught all-day kindergarten, I was dismayed that they got only one recess. It was 30 minutes and was also my lunch. I thought 30 minutes out of the whole day was terrible, but I guess it could have been worse–10 minutes?!

    All of the pressure for academic performance (courtesy of NCLB) has actually made things worse. By trying to force kids to sit and stare at textbooks, we are killing any love of learning, not to mention setting them up for failure by not giving them proper outlets to burn off their energy so they might actually focus. *Sigh*

    Only 10 minutes of recess, in which they’re not allowed to run, is simply ridiculous.

  50. Walter Underwood November 12, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    My son loves to run. His second grade teacher would have him go run a couple of laps around the school yard if he was fidgety during class (not just at recess). After that, he’d be ready to pay attention.

    Now he’s on the cross-country team at Willamette University.

  51. Warren November 12, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    The wording of the post implies such. “just institued” and that all the other parents the poster has spoke with are appalled. This to me, tells me it was no more than the child coming home and saying, “Mom, we are not allowed to run at recess.”. Had there been a forum on this, I would think the poster’s wording would have indicated it, as with the outrage of the board not listening to the parents.


  52. Warren November 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

    Cool is cool. Differences of opinions are what makes discussions great. Just because you are wrong, just kidding……….

    I am all for peaceful resolutions to any problem. They are so much less stressful.
    I am also for having the right to call a spade a spade, and lunacy…lunacy. Now if I happen to get loud, intimidating and animated, it is the other party’s responsibility to understand, because this is about our kids, and there is nothing I am more passionate and defensive about.

  53. Amy O November 12, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    I agree with going to the next school board meeting. If enough parents and students show up to talk, they will definitely take notice. I would call ahead of time to make sure you don’t have to be on the agenda in order to talk.

    I would love to see how they plan to enforce this rule. I work at a K-8 school, and we had a no running rule for the morning line-up (there were 700+ kids on the school yard at that time). It was impossible to enforce and led to designated run around areas. Some kids don’t even realize they are running, they just do.

  54. backroadsem November 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    “”The explanation I heard from what another parent was told at the other elementary school from ours was that the kids were running into each other too much and hitting their heards on the playground equipment. I could see not letting them run around the equipment if they gave them anywhere else to be for recess. I will update when I have some answers.”‘

    My response to the theoretical reasons: Most kids are bright enough to eventually learn how to avoid running into other people and objects. They will be in pain and an important lesson will be learned.

    If you aren’t satisfied with the responses from district and principle, I say attend a district meeting and use the time around that to get the media and community involved.

  55. linvo November 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    @Patricia, I now have these images of scores of kids just running head first into the play equipment! Running into eachother happens (I brace myself sometimes walking through my daughter’s school playground at drop off), but it is still no reason for banning the activity. It might indicate that they need more space. Maybe they can have recess for different age groups at different times if the playground is too crowded?

    Personally, I would try to advocate for longer recess too. I hope this isn’t the only break they get during the day? I’m sure my daughter gets at least 20 mins during the morning and an hour for lunch and I think that’s about right in a 6 hour day. There is no way she would be able to keep up her concentration with any less, and she doesn’t even have as much pent up energy as some of the boisterous boys in her class.

  56. Emily November 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    @BackRoadsEm–A rule against running around the equipment would preclude the kids from playing Lava Tag, which is a really fun and simple game that most kids discover on their own. It’s just like regular tag, but with the added challenge of pretending that the grass/sand/gravel/whatever is made of lava. If you don’t let kids play that outside, they end up playing it in the house, on the furniture.

  57. lucy gigli November 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    The best thing to do with any kind of advocacy is to start with the people who instituted the rules. give them a chance to talk. give them a chance to explain.
    Have two or three other parents or teachers with you ( a nice diverse group) who are rational and NOT prone to get unglued.

    If you can’t change with face to face meetings, then go for phone calls with others – people on the school board, principals. Phone calls and face to face meetings are the BEST way to get people on your side and change minds. It is too easy for people to get defensive and rude and angry via email.

    Phone calls also are quick to help you find the people who can really reverse the decision. If it is the school board, talk to each one individually. Don’t go to the school board meetings until you know for sure that you’ll get the decision you want.

  58. Donald November 12, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive has addressed this very issue

    Follow the link on the bottom to open the pdf

  59. Lollipoplover November 12, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Running actually makes you smarter.

  60. Sarah November 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    First, find out what actually happened – was this a district policy change? Has it come from the board, or is it a decision by a superintendent? Is it for a particular school only, decided on by a principal, or is is a misinterpretation of something that was told a student?

    You need to give the official school district process an opportunity. Going in with all guns blazing will be counter productive, if you want to deal with them in the future.

    As previously advised, go to the school board meeting, research the policies, etc. If you don’t get any movement from the school district process, then try the media.

  61. Owen Allen November 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

    I would also like to put my professional two bits in. As a physiotherapist and worker for many year on Australian Health Policy, the burgeoning obesity and chronic disease rates in the western world require more physical activity from childhood onward. Active recesses in most western schools require extending. ACTIVITY needs ENCOURAGING as the great percentage of school children, given a recess do not take advantage of it. Or eliminate recess except for food and water and add facilitated sport and performing arts.

  62. Mike November 12, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    @Warren, your story of an inspector insisting the old play structure had to go and be replaced by a new one.

    I’d bet good money the inspector had a financial stake in the company that builds new play structures.

    Back on topic: Tell the children to run everywhere, always. What is the school going to do, suspend everyone? Win! The kids get to stay home and the school loses big $$$ from lower attendance.

  63. Warren November 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm #

    @Mike, when asked directly what manufacturer was donating to the lobbiest, that started the whole province wide playground upgrades, he refused to answer.

  64. Allison November 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    Going in with guns blazing will only make your opponents dig their heels in further (to mix my metaphors a bit, sorry). Look for the opportunity for them to save face when they reverse position.

  65. CrazyCatLady November 12, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    Warren, great job on keeping the play structure! I bet the community came together to begin with to build it, it is great that they put in to save it.

    Where I used to live there was a school/community playground built like that. Started out wood, and it was great fun for kids to play on. At some point when I went back to visit, it had boards replaced with plastic decking material, I assume to prevent slivers. Some parts had been taken out, but replaced with other things that were also fun to use.

    A lot of people in the community, and businesses, went in together to build this. I am so glad that they have been able to save it over the years. The plastic unimaginative things are just not as much fun.

  66. CrazyCatLady November 12, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    If the kids can’t run, how about jumping? Wouldn’t it be great if they all went outside one day and instead of walking started jumping? The ideal day for that would be the day the school board members come by to visit….

  67. ifsogirl November 13, 2012 at 12:24 am #

    The school my daughter’s go to has a great way of getting around school board policies on recess and lunch. They get a total of 10 minutes for recess and about 25 minutes of outside play time for lunch. Every Wednesday the whole school goes to the gym for dance aerobics. EVERY teacher brings their kids outside at least once a day EVERY day to play and run around. No learning just running and playing. They are also building a natural play space that will have bushes for playing hide and seek that are also fruit bearing, boulders for climbing, even a bog that will hopefully become a home for frogs and lizards. There will also be a storytime circle and a bunch of bird houses. I LOVE my kids school.

  68. Jenny Islander November 13, 2012 at 1:30 am #

    I am so very, very grateful that my health and our income allow me to homeschool. We had an unexpected day of good walking weather, so I declared a field trip day. We observed green plants and discussed why those plants in particular were still green while nearby vegetation was already dead (sun exposure, shelter from wind, etc.). We listened and looked for seasonal birds. I spotted a moving speck and my younger daughter promptly identified it as a minuscule spider, citing its 8 legs, 2-part body, and “big old fluffy tushie.” We used our hands to feel how concrete was still reradiating solar energy, but not as much as in summertime. Then we went to a business that had a lot of trees planted around it and each child chose an unfamiliar tree. They carefully described what they observed about it, I wrote down their observations, and we later found the trees in an outdoor ornamental planting guide. We will continue to observe these trees and the lichens and mosses on them for a year. On the way home we noted the rapid change in the color and angle of the sunlight here in the subarctic.

    *Hours* outdoors. FOR SCIENCE!

  69. Sky November 13, 2012 at 1:58 am #

    My daughter came home from K and told me she was not allowed to run at recess, I contacted the teacher and said–my daughter is 5. Sometimes she gives me misinformation. Surely this is not true, but she said….sure enough, the principal had declared no running at recess because a kid might fall and skin his knee on the mulch. I moved her to private school the next year, this was only one of the many reasons. The others were academic and disciplinary in nature.

  70. Donald November 13, 2012 at 2:36 am #

    @ Jennifer

    Good one

    …..Before looking for a fight, have you tried a polite phone call to the principal? How about modeling a respectful, calm response before writing letters to the newspaper? Children need us to be good role models who can calmly and thoughtfully advocate for them, not jump to conclusions and fly off the handle unnecessarily……

    Running and playing is an important part of education. So is learning how to be effective at changing this policy.

    I’m outraged by it but know that if I go about it the wrong way, my opponent will only dig in deeper.

    I can only repeat what many have said already. Don’t go in guns blazing.

  71. Emily November 13, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    @CrazyCatLady–I like your thinking. Of course, that might just get jumping banned along with running.

    @Barbara–What kind of a crazy, Draconian, abusive school did you go to? Banning running, corporal punishment, and penalizing the victim of theft? That’s nuts. I think your school must have been the exception to the rule, though–I started public school in 1989 (kindergarten), and finished in 2003 (OAC), and running was always allowed outside, as well as in the gymnasium.

  72. Peter November 13, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    Sally, that one came to mind when I was typing the message.

    I was thinking more of an emo-mopey kind of thing with kids just kind of walking around and kicking the ball.

  73. Amy November 13, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Donald’s suggestion to talk with your child’s teacher and then principal is a good place to start. First confirm the policy and find out the reasons behind it directly from them. If it is a school-wide policy, ask to meet with the principal to discuss this further, with a scheduled appointment so that you will have time to talk and more of his/her undivided attention.

    If/when you meet with the principal, bring with you a few articles with research on the need for children to have both exercise and active play. If the concern is that children may fall and get hurt, I would at least ask that perhaps running on the blacktop might not be allowed, but running elsewhere on the playground definitely should be. I guess that assumes that part of your school’s playground is mulch or grass, though.

    If it is a district-wide policy, I would gather a group of concerned parents to speak at a school board meeting. Different districts have different policies. In our district, concerns/questions/comments from parents and others in the school district are taken at the beginning of each meeting, with about a five minute time limit for each person. It may be necessary/helpful to call ahead and asked to be put on the agenda for the next meeting.

    I wish you well. Our children need to run and play more, not less of course.

  74. Emily November 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    @Amy–If kids can’t run on the blacktop/asphalt areas, how can they play basketball, or handball? Also, kids scrape knees and elbows playing hopscotch all the time, even if there’s no running involved. Other than that, I agree with you–if there’s a district-wide policy against running at recess, then yes, collectively, politely speaking up against it is the best course of action.

  75. lexi November 13, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Lunch and recess were the two best reasons to attend school. If I hadn’t been able to run during recess and after gobbling my lunch down quickly, I would have felt like a caged animal. Has anyone noticed how most schools look like mini-versions of prison–at least the slapped together versions of school I attended in Southern California. I’m dreading the day when my toddler eventually enters the “system”.

  76. Warren November 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Okay, I realize that we all want to appear to be taking the high road. How many board meetings will you have to speak at, before you realize they aren’t budging? How many meetings with other parents will you need? Petitions, I have found are only good when held up infront of the board, while on camera.

    Yes give them a chance to change the rule. But this should not become a long drawn out, set up a commitee to study, have round table debate, look at the stats, type issue.
    The rule is insane, the admin’s at idiots for coming up with it. Don’t let it go too long.

  77. Allison November 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    @Warren, I hope you will honestly consider something. No need to respond, unless you want to, but please spend a minute considering this: When you make a decision at work, and someone responds with, “That’s an insane decision! You’re an idiot!” how do you react to that?

  78. Laurie haug November 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm #

    Absolutely ridiculous! Kids needs more time to run and play not less!

  79. Warren November 13, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Did you miss the statement, to give them the chance to change the rule?

    1. I am not saying to say it is insane. I am saying don’t let them take months or years to change the rule. This does not need a commitee to study the pros and cons, it does not need meeting after meeting with debate. It does not need parents to waste their time and money on. If they won’t change the rule in a quick and timely manner…..then go all out, with media and political pressure. Again I a really disheartened and it makes me sick to think of all these parents that cannot get passionate and worked up, when it comes to their kids. Petitions, debates, agendas, meetings, and so on are fine, but sometimes you just have to stand up and tell them ,”This is my kid. You are not doing what’s right. Change it, or regret it!!!”. People need to get off of their asses, and take charge sometimes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting aggressive, and getting the job done.
    2. Allison, noone has ever responded in that manner, because I have never made a decision that would warrant it. And if I made a call along the idiotic lines as this, I would respect that person for standing up to me.
    I hate weak people, that will not stand up for themselves. If you are not willing to stand up, be counted, and take a risk in what you believe in…….then you deserve what you get, and do not have the right to complain.

  80. Emily November 13, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Warren–I agree. If the school board takes “months or years” over such a simple thing, it’ll only hurt the kids in the meantime. A year may not seem like a long time from an administrative/infrastructure perspective, but to a kid, it’s forever–a child will only ever have one shot at grade one (for example), and you don’t want that child to look back and remember school as a negative, oppressive place. So, you’re right; this doesn’t require endless research, debate, etc., through pompous “summit meetings” at the board office; it just requires some common sense. Running is healthy. Physical activity is healthy. Being healthy and having a chance to be active helps kids focus better in class. Yes, physical activity can be dangerous, but that doesn’t mean it should be banned, or micromanaged within an inch of its life. Instead, supervision and sensible rules are in order–“sensible rules” being, instead of “no running,” you could say, “run only in ABC area, because XYZ area is the ‘calm’ area.” Or, instead of “no balls,” how about “no deliberately whipping balls at people and hurting them?” I know that these kinds of rules aren’t as easy as blanket bans on every facet of childhood that could possibly be construed as risky, but they’re better, because they don’t condemn kids to a risk-free, danger-free, fun-free existence.

  81. Beth Kimberly November 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    I love how many great ideas people have. I agree — start with a calm conversation with the principal to better understand the rule and express your views (and the views of others/research to back) about the values of active play. If more needs to be done after that, bring other parents in the mix, talk about it at PTA meetings, consider a petition or an article in the local news, go up the ladder to the district staff.

    A lot of the time bans on play happen because schools are worried about injuries. Try offering to introduce safe ways to play at recess and volunteer at recess to show the school how to bring back running. Try this article for ideas:

  82. Emily November 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    @Beth Kimberley–Playworks is a company that does “structured recess,” which means they pay a ridiculous amount of money for a “recess coach” to come in and organize games for the kids. This doesn’t sound all bad, but a lot of schools make it mandatory to participate in these games, which basically turns recess into another class, thereby defeating its purpose. The ideas in the article you posted were all good, EXCEPT for the one about adults playing along with the kids. That idea isn’t bad in itself, but it should be used sparingly. For the most part, kids need recess to organize their own fun, and, while they may “behave better” with adults around, they’re also less likely to be creative. For example, when I was in grade one, the popular game to play at recess (for a while) was “Toilet Monster.” Players would climb to the top of the domed, geometric climber, one player would be declared the “Toilet Monster,” and he or she would call the name of another player to chase. They would then both jump or flip through the hole at the top of the climber, and run around in circles in the sand below. If the Toilet Monster tagged the other player, then that player would become the new Toilet Monster, and the whole thing would start again. For obvious reasons, we couldn’t have played that with an adult participating, because the whole concept was “risque,” and also, a lot of adults wouldn’t be up to the physical demands of the game, i.e., jumping and/or flipping.

  83. Don Berg November 15, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    If you get to the point when you will be asking the political powers that be questions in a public forum here is a set of guidelines for asking good questions:

    Here are some dos and don’ts for asking questions that can help us all take advantage of this political moment.
    1. Ask your question in a way that can be heard

    *Sound reasonable. You don’t want to raise hackles or just get written off. No need to say “Well, Wall Street executives will hate this idea, but….”
    *Be yourself. Bring in a relevant personal example that people can relate to. Mention something that happened to you, your relative, or friend, but keep your example short.
    *Use ordinary language. If you need to use an unfamiliar term (such as the Financial Transaction Tax, in my example below), explain it briefly. Don’t turn people off with jargon.

    *Be succinct. You don’t want people feeling you took too much air time. Best to keep your question under a minute. But don’t talk fast to squeeze in more. You want everyone to understand what you’re saying.

    2.Use your question to move an idea forward

    *Put forward an idea rather than asking a general question. If you ask how the politician will create jobs—he/she will have a stock answer that you’ve probably heard before. Instead, ask his/her views about an idea you think will create jobs.
    *Frame your idea in terms of a goal most people want to reach (strong communities, fair elections, good schools). You want to interest the politician and the audience right off the bat.
    *Be sure your question is relevant to that politician’s level of decision-making. Thus, don’t ask a national politician something that’s handled at the state or local level or vice versa.
    *Mention the benefits of the idea you are putting forward. E.g. it generates revenue or improves the environment. But don’t exaggerate those benefits. You don’t want people to dismiss your idea because you made it sound like a silver bullet.
    *Ask the politician for his or her stand on the issue, but not in a way that can be answered yes or no. You want to open an exploration. Thus, don’t say “Would you vote for this?” Instead ask “What is your view about this?”

    The dos and don’ts in action

    Now let me apply these dos and don’ts to a few fresh ideas.

    For a national candidate:
    “I think many of us are concerned that the government is having to cut back on important services like education and veterans benefits because we don’t have the money. I’ve heard one solution is something called a Financial Transaction Tax. As I understand it, it’s a small tax on trades on Wall Street. I read that if we taxed each trade just a quarter of one percent that could raise about $150 billion a year. What is your view on the Financial Transaction Tax?”

    For a state candidate:
    “I’m really concerned about the number of people unemployed in our state. It’s been hard to watch my sister search for a job for over a year. I’ve heard it would help if our state had a state-owned bank. I’ve read that North Dakota has a state-owned bank—and it runs a budget surplus and has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The state bank partners with community banks and together they’ve kept credit flowing to farmers and local businesses throughout this recession. What do you think about our state creating its own bank?”

    For a county candidate:
    “I’m concerned our neighborhoods are deteriorating because of all the foreclosures. I read that in California, the auditors in one county checked the documents on a sample of foreclosures and found that the big majority had fraudulent elements. Their investigation has slowed down the foreclosures. What would you think about conducting such an audit in our county?”


  84. Warren November 15, 2012 at 6:50 am #

    Ladies and Gentlemen, we are talking about a no running at recess rule. Not asking for thousands of dollars of funding to be diverted.

    To the original poster. Look at it this way, do you want the rule changed before or after your child graduates?

    I know alot of you mean well. But some of the advice, means that this rule will be on the books for months if not longer. We all that it is relative. The longer it remains the lower the chance of change.

    Sorry, to all those who would take the time to attend meeting after meeting. Debate after debate. It won’t work. Organize the students, get them to all jog around the field, every recess in protest. Back them up, with the school. Let the school know you are proud of them. Get media out to film the jog-in. Strike while the topic is hot.

  85. Patricia November 15, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    Here’s the scoop after many emails between myself, the principal of my son’s school, a school board member, and some friends on the staff at my son’s school.

    There is no rule at my son’s school about running at recess. Apparently some extra strict recess monitors were taking it upon themselves to enforce a no running rule. They have been spoken to and yesterday my son said the kids were specifically told that they can run, but not on or around the playground equipment. There is a different story at the other school in the district. Apparently their principal instituted a no running policy but not through the school board. I don’t know if I lit a fire there. I don’t think I should be the one to fight the battle to change things at that school. But I know some people with kids there and will speak to them about it.

    Thank you for all the excellent advice!

  86. CrazyCatLady November 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Yay! I am glad that your principal has some good sense! And instead of blindly following what staff said, he actually took them to task!

    I do feel sorry for the kids at the other school. Hopefully some parents there will take up the cause and allow the kids to move at the speeds they need to move. (I had a runner. He needed to move because of issues he had with his eye sight. It helped his world stay still when he moved. Stopping him from running for 8 hours a day would have been horrible for him….and the rest of his class. And, was a big part of why we homeschool.)

  87. Judith Adams November 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    I think that childern should have recess as they need the time to socialiaze and the exercise as gym is onley 1 hour a week. Running is exercise. End the dictatorship.


  1. Help This Mom Fight New School Rule: NO RUNNING AT RECESS #education « 050120.1325.011919 - November 12, 2012

    […] SavedURI :Hide URL Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintMoreTumblrRedditDiggLinkedInStumbleUponGoogle +1Pinterest Written by 011415142513152119 Posted in Education Tagged with education, health […]

  2. Morning coffee roundup at Bunchland - November 12, 2012

    […] The insanity of A Ban on Running at Recess – really? (via Free Range Kids – thanks to Globe & Mail public health reporter André […]

  3. School Bans Running at Recess | - November 13, 2012

    […] to a post on the parenting website Free Range Kids, one unnamed school board recently instituted a “no running policy” during recess. To make […]

  4. theCL Report: Old Inglorious - November 17, 2012

    […] No Running at Recess! […]

  5. Obesity in Kids - - January 23, 2013

    […] removal of much of the equipment we used to play with. In some districts, the paranoia has led to ridiculous policies like “no running at recess because someone might fall down.” No […]