Schools Try 4 Recesses a Day — Kids THRIVE


Reading rszzkshntt
this piece
about four Texas schools that upped the number of recesses for their kids — with fantastic results — made my stomach clench. I thought back to my sons’ grammar school, which had only 20 minutes a day of recess, and took even that away when the kids were “acting out.” In other words — when the kids needed it the most.

So here’s to the schools in Fort Worth, TX, for heeding the clarion call of Liink, an incredible group dedicated to promoting 4 recesses a day — two 15 minute breaks in the morning and two in the afternoon. It calls recess “the forgotten classroom” where kids learn creativity, problem solving, even honor and integrity. Oh — and their academic achievement goes up, too.

At Eagle Mountain Elementary, writes, “The children always go outside to play games or use the swings and slides, even if it’s drizzly or cold.”

Result? First grade teacher Donna McBride reports:

“I was trying to wrap my head around my class going outside four times a day and still being able to teach those children all the things they needed to learn.”

Some five months into the experiment, McBride’s fears have been alleviated. Her students are less fidgety and more focused, she said. They listen more attentively, follow directions and try to solve problems on their own instead of coming to the teacher to fix everything. There are fewer discipline issues.

“We’re seeing really good results,” she noted.

Parents are seeing them, too.

The program is getting noticed spreading to more schools this coming fall.

Oh, and over at the public elementary school my kids attended, the principal and PTA have since taken a hard look at the studies showing that homework serves no actual purpose for young kids. And so, last year, they decided to banish traditional forms of it. Now kids can get their homework points by doing things like “playing in the park” or “eating dinner with family.” Shout out to Principal Jane Hsu and Assistant Principal Gary Shevell.

Change can happen. Tag — you’re it!


What's missing? (Hooray!)

What’s missing? (Hooray!)


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50 Responses to Schools Try 4 Recesses a Day — Kids THRIVE

  1. Caiti January 11, 2016 at 10:57 am #

    Wow! Are they actually allowed to play “dangerous” games like tag during recess?

  2. Jen January 11, 2016 at 11:06 am #

    Crossing my fingers and praying that this might catch on by me! I am very scared of what is going to happen to my wonderful, and very energetic 4-year old in Kindergarten when they tell him he is allowed 15 minutes of recess and 1 gym class per week… when are educators going to ‘get’ it?

  3. M. January 11, 2016 at 11:25 am #

    This makes me want to cry; my son is starting kindergarten next year and he will have only 10 minutes of recess every day. I do not think he is going to thrive in that environment but, unfortunately I don’t have any other viable options. I so wish more schools would make policy based on the science, and maybe they will, but it will come too late to help my kid 🙁

  4. Jessica January 11, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    All I could think when I read this article was that as adults, when we work, are entitled to two fifteen minute breaks plus lunch. We should at the very least be giving our kids the same. Hopefully this will catch on everywhere.

  5. DrTorch January 11, 2016 at 11:41 am #

    If you’re worried about your child entering these schools, then you can homeschool.

    It has a world of upside.

  6. Ann in L.A. January 11, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    At least one long recess is important too, I think. One of the great things kids do together is make up games and fantasy worlds (“Let’s play space!” “I get to be an alien” “I’ll be a star ship pilot” etc…) which take time to evolve. 15 minutes is great to get kids running around, but doesn’t leave much time for imaginative play.

  7. John January 11, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    This is not to mention that the kids are now getting some much needed exercise! This is an important part of childhood that has been lacking in schools for the past 30 years or so due to recess in schools being minimized. This is also PART of the reason why childhood obesity has increased over the years. But if the 4 recesses per day catches on, childhood obesity may start to decrease over time. We need to get our kids moving again!

  8. Eevee January 11, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    While it’s great to see this, I worry that progress toward more recess being the norm again will be slow, especially in “low-performing schools.” However, some of the benefits of more non-work time can be reaped through individual teachers implementing policies that mimic some of the benefits of recess for their own classroom. My mother is a third grade teacher, her school only gives the kids one 15-minute recess at the very end of the day (at that point, it’s almost like “what’s the point?”, the kids get in from recess and head right home), so she gives her kids “brain breaks”, 5-15 minute breaks throughout the day where they put down the “work” and do other things in the classroom. She has a few ground rules, but overall leaves options open: need a snack? Grab one. Want to talk to your friend about your new haircut? Gab away. Itching to reorganize your workspace? Have at it, here’s the trash can for trash, go raid the “New Supplies” box for anything you’re running low on. Just need to get up and move? Dance-along videos are already going on the projector, or you can walk up and down the hall so long as you stay in our hall and don’t disturb other classes. Her kids love it, and her colleagues have picked it up too after noticing the drastic difference in classroom behavior. While it’s great to see this change on a school-wide level in some places, it’s important not to discount the power of teachers to implement similar changes in their classroom, often without having to jump through the hoops of approval and red tape that come with a school-wide change.

  9. Diana Green January 11, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

    Take a bow, Lenore.

    You are an effective change agent.

  10. Catherine Caldwell-Harris January 11, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    @Eevee — kudos to your mother who gives brain breaks in her third grade class.

    Had an idea: We parents have purchasing power!

    Public schools face declining enrollments. Parents can often choose a magnet or charter or alternative school. Public schools need the daily money they get from your child’s attendance as well as the starting amount they get for each child in the fall ($12,000 per child in Los Angeles, for example).

    So: When you go to enroll your child, make a big point when talking to administrators that you are disappointed in the amount of recess offered and you will be looking for an alternative school. Even if it is technically a bluff, at least take 30 seconds to make the bluff — schools will listen because they need you.

    My kids’ school in Pasadena has full-day for kindergarten, 8:45 – 3:10. It offers elementary school students a 15 minute recess at 10:15 and a 45 minute lunch. For kinder they also get an after lunch nap. It actually seems ok — but now I’m wondering if this is not enough?

    My boys are in a city-administered after-school program run by a Pasadena Parks and Recs which uses school grounds and involves outside playground play as much as possible.

  11. Rae Pica January 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

    We have research going back to 1885 (!!) and up to the present showing that individuals — but particularly kids — are more productive when they have breaks! Moreover, we have more and more research showing that physical activity contributes to learning. So, any policymakers or administrators who eliminate recess in favor of “academics” should familiarize themselves with what actually works — as should teachers who withdraw recess as punishment.

    For those parents who’ve posted here and are worried about one 10- and 15-minute recess/day (as well you should be), please feel free to copy my article, “Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic…and Recess” ( and give it to the administrators at your children’s schools. I would also refer you to the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play (, the country’s largest recess advocate. It’s time to fight back!

  12. Alicia January 11, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

    And, for the love, can we do away with “walk and talk?” I understand theach premise behind walking for more activity, but walking around the playground…looking longingly at all the fun they’re missing…is just sad for kids. They’d probably get more physical activity and definitely more creative & imaginative play if they were allowed to utilize the playground instead of simply walk around it.

  13. Backroads January 11, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    Read this article and loved it. However, I have personally never seen a school with fewer than three recesses. Where are these schools banning recess? I want to learn more of the thought process behind it. And when do the teachers get breaks? Recesses are part of my teacher contract.

  14. Havva January 11, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    It would really help to have a list of cases like this, and resources to educate and support schools in taking these steps. This seems like something of low hanging fruit for changing our children’s environment for the better. What opposition to recess exists seems to be a reluctant and desperate attempt to improve test scores, or get the kids under control. The news that recess is actually an ally in the goals of improving learning and behavior, is nothing but good news. And there are plenty of parents and teachers who understand this intuitively, and could be recruited to speak up for recess. If you can’t change the whole school, or whole school district, what about helping one teacher implement a change so that the other teachers can see the difference it makes, such as Eevee noted.

    I have heard from other parents at my synagogue that the book “Last Child in the Woods” had a huge impact on one of the local school districts. There have been PTA hosted seminars discussing the book, and the need to let children play in order for them to achieve (it is a competitive area). Apparently teachers and administrators have taken up the topic. The schools endorsing play, has gotten the attention of the parents.

    As a foot note… I think one of the hard things in parenting (and probably in teaching) is gauging the difference between behavior that needs squashed, and behavior that needs an appropriate outlet. Took a couple times with my daughter coloring on the wall at nap time before it clicked for us that she was bored out of her mind (because she wasn’t napping) and that coloring was a perfectly appropriate activity, just not on the wall. But of course she now couldn’t be trusted with writing implements at nap time, and giving her what she needed felt like a struggle because we didn’t want to reward bad behavior. But I made a bold proposal and provided a magna doodle. The first day with the magna doodle, the assistant teacher seemed particularly surprised at how much it helped. Apparently the occasional wall coloring wasn’t the only acting out that had been going on, just the most reportable behavior.

  15. Backroads January 11, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    Brain breaks are wonderful things that are simply part of good teaching–the education world is full of ideas on brain breaks. I use them regularly despite the fact we have 50 minutes of recess a day.

    But it’s sad to think brain breaks must be a rescue for recess – deprived kids. That’s not what they’re for.

  16. lollipoplover January 11, 2016 at 2:41 pm #

    My husband and I both agree that the most important subjects for our kids at school are lunch and recess. They learn more socially during these two periods and it tells us more about their overall school experience. I love hearing recess stories at the dinner table.

    Our school gives 30 minutes outdoor recess yet it is weather dependent. They do cancel for wet weather but I don’t blame the school- so many kids don’t have waterproof coats and the school gets calls if the kids are wet or dirty, sadly. My daughter’s class is rewarded an extra recess period for good behavior (15 minutes) and get just their class on the playground. Kids without recess breaks get squirrely and have shorter attention spans. I love the new STEM teaching that has kids building and testing out motorized cars and physics on the playground as part of their science curriculum. The best learning has the child actively and physically engaged with their brains and their bodies. I could use 4 periods of recess in my own day, personally.

  17. Ben January 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    DrTorch – Most parents now a day cannot afford to have a parent stay home full time with a child to homeschool them. I know that my wife and I certainly couldn’t afford to do it.

    Catherine Caldwell-Harris – Unfortunately, that’s not an option for most people. My son is 5 and will be starting kindergarten this fall. There is only one charter school within reasonable driving distance, and they get so many applicants that they’ve instituted a lottery (which we’ve entered). The odds of winning this lottery are very, very small. In which case, we will have no alternative at all, since we cannot afford the crushing price of private school.

  18. Donald January 11, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    This the best news I have heard for a while now! This will catch on. Many have know that kids will thrive with more play time. I think it will catch on in a big way. Before we only had opinions to back our claim. However as these results get documented more and more, money will follow. What I mean by that is the government has promoted and withdrawn funding for years to make people dance to their tune.

    Years back they focused on test scores so much that they ignored everything else. (and withdrew funding to schools that didn’t have the same belief) I’m glad to see this trend is changing. Without Lenore’s campaign, it would have taken several more years for the tide to change.

  19. Stephanie F January 11, 2016 at 3:21 pm #

    Nice! Younger kids at my kids’ school get 3 recess breaks – morning, lunch and afternoon – but this sounds even better. I’m not sure what grade they drop afternoon recess, but clear through elementary they get morning and lunch recess time. Unfortunately, they’re very strict about keeping the kids in if the weather is wet at all, and yes, teachers take recess time away for misbehavior or incomplete classwork.

  20. Ariel January 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm #

    Lucky kids, kudos to the schools! For some reason, none of the schools I went to had an actual Recess until I was in middle school; and that depended on what “level” you were on. the higher the level, the more recess time. The highest level got about an hour. The lowest got 10 minutes. the absolute lowest level got none.

    But they had so many things that counted as infractions (too many infractions put you down a level). You could wind up with no recess just for normal things kids do or forget to do. When I first started at that school, I wound up on the “no recess” level by the second week of school.
    Good idea in theory, bad execution.

  21. Anna January 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    Nice story – thanks, Lenore.

    Jessica: “All I could think when I read this article was that as adults, when we work, are entitled to two fifteen minute breaks plus lunch. We should at the very least be giving our kids the same. ”

    Good point. Plus three reasons kids obviously need MORE breaks than adults do:
    1. They are naturally disposed to be more physically active than adults and have shorter attention spans.
    2. Learning and doing brainwork are far more mentally draining than most things adults do at work.
    3. Most adults can walk around at work, go get a drink of water, go to the bathroom when they need to, and generally organize their own tasks, unlike at school, where all such choices are typically dictated by the teacher. How many of us adults could stomach that level of control for hours at a time?

  22. sigh January 11, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    Good Lord, I can’t believe the TEACHERS don’t demand this.

    And an end to homework.

    Seriously, less recess = more behaviour problems and worse learning outcomes.

    Elementary homework = more work for teacher and no positive impact on learning outcomes.

    Teachers, SPEAK UP.

  23. Donald January 11, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    The government is slow to respond, (that’s well known) and they are known to take things too far. (test scores tunnel vision) However the tide is changing. They have see the upsurge in emotionally frail students. This has been on an incline for decades. They’re starting to understand that they need to balance academics with play and give the children the opportunity to develop

  24. Backroads January 11, 2016 at 4:52 pm #

    Another forum discussing the article… this video was posted. Takes awhile to get to the go-outside point, but it’s pretty interesting.

  25. Larry Coffin January 11, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    In the ’50s we had 30 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. We played all the traditional games of the times: marbles (a biggie), all the ball games, “run-through” (kinda rough but toughened us up), socialized. To me, those things are a big part of education. I thank God that I grew up in an era with no internet!!!

  26. Mahala Wiggen January 11, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

    This are the same thing hands on teachers have been saying for years. Children’s behavior has only gotten worse with more confinement. Free play and learning through play in the classroom helps learning .

  27. Dave January 11, 2016 at 6:18 pm #

    I’m not sure I agree entirely on the no homework change. It probably doesn’t add much academically in elementary school, but it does build homework habits at an early age, so it won’t be as much of a shock when they get to middle and high school. I’d also like to see the actual studies on elementary age homework benefits. Teachers almost universally hate having to chase and correct homework papers, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a study designed with that result in mind.

    As to recess, it’s about time! Any school that eliminates recess does so only by ignoring more than a century of research.

  28. Emily January 11, 2016 at 6:19 pm #

    @Ariel–I’m just curious, what “infractions” were considered punishable offences at your school? Also, was it possible to earn back recess after losing it?

  29. Anna January 11, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    “It probably doesn’t add much academically in elementary school, but it does build homework habits at an early age, so it won’t be as much of a shock when they get to middle and high school.”

    Here’s the problem with that reasoning, though: each age has its own appropriate developmental milestones. One-year-olds learn to walk, two-year-olds learn to talk, etc. We don’t accelerate the development of one-year-olds by making them talk to prepare them for life as a two-year-old. (Or sensible parents don’t, anyway.)

    So if 12 (for instance) is the appropriate age, developmentally, for doing homework, it does NOT follow that 11-year-olds should do homework to prepare for being 12. Because if so, 10-year-olds should do homework to prepare to be 11, and so on down the line. Perhaps we should just make our toddlers sit in cubicles all day to prepare them for adulthood…

    In my opinion, the best way to prepare to be 5 years old, is to do the things that 4-year-olds naturally do, and do them to the max, rather than to start doing 5-year-old stuff prematurely.

  30. DD January 11, 2016 at 7:06 pm #

    Ben – just a thought. Homeschooling does not have to be during traditional school hours. I have known a number of single parent and two income families that homeschool. They either work different shifts or if that is not an option, work with another homeschool family to keep the kids, work with them some and then the parents handle the primary instruction when they are home. If it is important to you there will be a way to make it work.

    I do love this idea and excited because our great niece starts school next year in the Fort Worth District.

  31. TJ Branham January 11, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    Hopefully, it’s a free range recess instead of structured. When I was in elementary school we even played Red Rover with boys and girls. Unheard of nowadays.

  32. sigh January 11, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    To Dave, and anyone else wondering if there have been any studies about homework in elementary school:

  33. James Pollock January 11, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    When I taught in a vocational college, students got 4 recesses a day (although few of them went outside, except the smokers).

  34. James Pollock January 11, 2016 at 8:27 pm #

    “I’m not sure I agree entirely on the no homework change. It probably doesn’t add much academically in elementary school, but it does build homework habits at an early age,”

    Unfortunately, the habit it builds is “this is a waste of my time, and I don’t need to do it. So I won’t.”

  35. Michele January 11, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    This is fabulous! Hallelujah!

    As schools move further and further away from even having recess, eliminating center time in the K classroom, demanding children to sit still for ungodly periods of time, extending half day K to full day K…’s no wonder there are so many issues in our classrooms. Behavior, academic, social emotional issues. More recess addresses all of those issues. NO brainer.

    I’m not saying that recess will solve every problem under the sun in the school system, but darn if this isn’t something that must be considered if not demanded. America’s education system—WAKE UP!!!!

  36. Warren January 11, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

    As for the homework, some preparation for the later grades and beyond needs to happen. You just cannot dump a student into high school and its workload with no prep. And the idea of hitting college with no experience in doing work outside the class would be devastating.

    Your opinion as a teacher is as worthless as your legal opinions. I have seen the reviews posted by your students.

  37. sexhysteria January 12, 2016 at 3:24 am #

    Aside from the health benefit of physical activity, kids need more time interacting with each other rather than being lectured to. Why should the average child be expected to have a longer attention span than the average adult?

  38. Andy January 12, 2016 at 5:55 am #

    @Dave I would not worry too much about short term shock when system changes as they grow up. They will be shocked for a week, then they will go through getting used to it period and then adjust. If you want be easy on them, you can even rank up homework slowly few months before middle school.

    People are adjustable, especially kids. We do not need to give six years old kid homework so that fourteen years old are used to homework.

    My personal complain about homework is that too much of it is waste of time. The kid is solving math or writing letters (e.g. the subject the kid is supposed to reinforced) for very little time and then spends a lot of time coloring, cutting, pasting and other beautification. Most of it is pointless busy work.

    Want them to reinforce inequality? Make them cross biggest apple. Don’t make them waste time coloring it.

  39. Emily January 12, 2016 at 8:55 am #

    About the homework debate, I can see why eliminating it until a certain age/grade level might make sense. “Cutting back” on homework can still leave kids with too much, especially at schoos where kids have different teachers for different classes. Each teacher assigns “just” 15, 20, 30, 60 minutes of homework per night, and by the end of the school day, the kids have multiple hours of homework to get through. Also, every kid is different, and some teachers have a skewed idea of how long things take for students, versus for experts. In my experience, math teachers were especially notorious for this. So, I can see why it might be easier to eliminate homework altogether, and maybe think about adding it back in slowly, and mindfully, than to “just try to cut back,” and give “less” homework. It’s sort of like when you clean out a closet, you often start by emptying it altogether, before deciding what to keep, what to donate to charity, and what to throw out.

  40. Doug January 12, 2016 at 9:03 am #

    My kindergartener has homework. Not every day, and never on Fridays. What’s the point? Apparently, so he can continue doing the things that he’s bored doing during school hours.

    Homework serves no purpose except to drill into childrens’ heads that “you need to do what you’re told to do, even if we aren’t around to watch you do it.”

    Nuts to that.

  41. That_Susan January 12, 2016 at 9:44 am #

    This is awesome!

    On a somewhat unrelated note, I’m trying to process a rather upsetting incident that occurred in my own area of my city on Monday the 4th, which is the first day that kids in our school district went back to school after the holidays. A man dressed all in black and wearing a ski mask got out of his pickup and started following a ten-year-old girl who was walking home alone from her bus stop. When she turned down his offer of a ride, he picked her up from behind and tried to force her into his truck. Thankfully, she had the presence of mind to kick, bite, and fight really hard until she was able to break away from him and run home. He was somehow able to get an object out of his truck and throw it at her, creating a small cut or scratch just below her eye (I haven’t quite figured out how he managed to hit her in the face while she was running away, but I can take her word for it) — but at least she escaped from the criminal relatively unharmed. She was able to give a description of the pickup and police are looking for him, but haven’t found him yet, at least not the last I heard. The reporter stated that someone in the girl’s family will be walking her to and from the bus stop from now on.

    The odd “coincidence” is that my own ten-year-old, who started walking to and from school independently last semester, let me know the night before starting back to school last Monday that she didn’t want to walk on her own anymore and wanted me to start walking with her again. She didn’t express any fear over walking alone, and I got the impression that it was more a matter of the newness wearing off and her deciding that she’d like some company after all. At any rate, I was happy to start walking with her again. Then, after learning late last week about the attempted abduction, with the predator still at large, I started wondering if I’d ever even feel okay about letting her walk alone again.

    Then today, it occurred to me that I just needed to keep trusting in our instincts — my daughters’, my husband’s, and my own. Walking independently was a wonderful experience for her last semester, and undoubtedly will be again — but right at this moment, it probably isn’t such a good idea. The cool thing is that she got that “feeling” that she wanted company, and I listened to her and started walking with her again. I remember that the most upsetting thing for me about that 11-year-old girl in California who was abducted and held captive until around the age of 28 or 29, was that she didn’t feel comfortable walking to her bus stop on her own but her stepdad refused to take her. I understand that very, very occasionally, randomly horrible things happen to children — but I don’t know how I could ever forgive myself if something like that happened to my child because I ignored her request for a walking companion.

    So I think my policy will be to continue to trust her feelings about whether or not she wants to walk independently. She’s been doing a great job of figuring things out so far. And I also understand that many parents in our part of the city will most likely be wanting to accompany their kids to school or to the bus stop, and this doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to me in view of what’s just happened — but I just hope we don’t see anyone trying to put through legislation that all schoolchildren under the age of 18 have to be accompanied by an adult while walking to school or the bus stop, or some such nonsense. Let’s continue trusting the instincts of parents and children regarding what’s best. I mean, didn’t that little girl just prove that her own fighting instincts could pull her safely through a really threatening situation?

  42. Ann January 12, 2016 at 10:12 am #

    Doug: “Homework serves no purpose except to drill into childrens’ heads that ‘you need to do what you’re told to do, even if we aren’t around to watch you do it.'”

    That is exactly what homework is for; it gives schools the opportunity to maintain control over children even when they are not in proximity. Compulsory schooling is not about educating our children; it is about turning them into blindly obedient conformists which makes them good little worker bees. Corporations have been behind compulsory schooling from its inception in the United States (e.g. Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockerfeller) and continue to be to this day (the Gates Foundation and publishers, such as Pearson, have been heavy contributors to Common Core). As for lack of recess, school is purposely designed to avoid teaching in ways that children learn best, hence separating them by age and giving them little opportunity for movement. It is the best way to mold children into adults who will be dependent rather than self-reliant and who will lack critical thinking skills and knowledge that might give them the ability to challenge authority. The extension of childhood that free-range parents bemoan is part of the intended consequences of compulsory schooling. No amount of “reform” is going to change that.

    DrTorch: “If you’re worried about your child entering these schools, then you can homeschool.”

    Ben: “Most parents now a day cannot afford to have a parent stay home full time with a child to homeschool them. I know that my wife and I certainly couldn’t afford to do it.”

    Neither can my husband and I. That is why I work third shift and homeschool my son during the day. When he was younger, I only worked part time, but now that he’s older, I have more freedom to work as many hours as I need. And because my son is quite independent (cooking on his own, doing his own laundry, taking public transportation to extra-curricular activities), I do get a chance to sleep.

    Though I’m here in case he needs help, my son’s schooling is mostly self-directed and at his own pace. He is now 13 and started high school courses in September. He chose to start with Chemistry and Geometry for his science and math courses. He finished both – a full year’s worth of course-work – in 3 months with A’s. He is now flying through Physics and Algebra I. He’s half-way through his “second semester” of Spanish I course-work, and it looks as if he’s on course to finish his English I and World History course-work by the end of this month. For his English and History essays, I use a grading service offered by a former college professor, and she told me he’s writing on a college level. If I had put him in public school, he would have been one of those children compelled to take drugs to control him because he needs to constantly move and sing or talk while he works. I refuse to do that to my child. I’m sure he’s much better off without the drugs anyway.

    My point in sharing all this is to say that you do not need government licensed and certified teachers to educate your children, and children do not need drugs to learn. If schools were designed to actually educate our children, four 15-minute recesses a day would be laughable, not laudable.

  43. snow January 12, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    Oy vey. Even the thought of an American school day gives me heartburn. Around here we had – and the kids still have as far as I know – 15 minutes of recess for every 45 minutes of teaching (i.e. 15 mins recess, 45 mins lesson per hour) so a typical school day for me was of the format of:

    8.30 – school starts, ~5min “morning assembly”
    8.35 – lesson 1
    9.20 – recess
    9.35 – lesson 2
    10.20 – recess
    10.35 – lesson 3
    11.20 – lunch break
    11.50 – lesson 4
    12.35 – recess

    and so forth, for however long the school day would continue (and this was the case throughout my primary and secondary schooling up until the end of high school). There was the occasional double lesson with the following recess being 30 mins instead of 15 (and that was something that was informally agreed upon with the specific teacher teaching the lesson), and when we had home economics school started 30 mins early in order for us to have enough time to cook whatever we were cooking.

    Oh, did I mention that I’m from Finland, so I’d argue that the quality of our education didn’t exactly suffer from this kind of scheduling, perhaps even quite the opposite.

  44. Ariel January 12, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    @Emily: the best way I can explain it is it was kind of like the “red yellow green” behavior thing they do for kids now. They ran on a ‘demerit’ system, so racking up enough demerits set you back a level.
    To answer your first question, first of all, we had a “6 inch rule”: no touching other students whatsoever, keep your hands 6 inches away from each other. For me (new to the school) that was easily forgettable at first; high 5s, clapping games, tapping someone on the freaking shoulder to get their attention. Then there’s usual school stuff: not having homework done, raising your hand to speak, having side conversations with your friends while the teacher was teaching.
    Second question: yes, but it was on your teacher’s time, not yours. Unless you were on the level that got no recess, you usually changed levels weekly. The bottom level took about maybe a couple weeks; since it was rock bottom I guess they wanted to show you had to work hard to move up.

  45. MichaelF January 12, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    Mentioned this to my son’s Kindergarten teacher today when she brought up the idea of having more than one recess a day. I love the fact that there are schools and educators out there with open minds for this sort of thing!

  46. Larry Coffin January 12, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

    As for homework, again in the 50’s we had no homework until 3rd grade in which we were given short, easy work, then increased little-by-little. The recess was an important time for socializing through random groups that formed and change sometimes day to day. Through games we learned to interact and get along well with each other. No getting all upset when our team lost. We were even allowed to go one block to the Mom and Pop store to fill our pockets with a dime’s worth of candy. The only infraction was fighting, and very little of that. There was punishments for breaking rules (chewing gum in class, talking back, negative interactions with other students and teachers). Those were the paddle-wielding days, so we all tried to watch our Ps and Qs. But that was positive for the vast majority because we learned that there are negative consequences for negative behavior. But the point is, we had a well-rounded education both in class and out on the playground.

  47. Emily January 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

    >>@Emily: the best way I can explain it is it was kind of like the “red yellow green” behavior thing they do for kids now. They ran on a ‘demerit’ system, so racking up enough demerits set you back a level.
    To answer your first question, first of all, we had a “6 inch rule”: no touching other students whatsoever, keep your hands 6 inches away from each other. For me (new to the school) that was easily forgettable at first; high 5s, clapping games, tapping someone on the freaking shoulder to get their attention. Then there’s usual school stuff: not having homework done, raising your hand to speak, having side conversations with your friends while the teacher was teaching.
    Second question: yes, but it was on your teacher’s time, not yours. Unless you were on the level that got no recess, you usually changed levels weekly. The bottom level took about maybe a couple weeks; since it was rock bottom I guess they wanted to show you had to work hard to move up.<<

    Ariel, that sounds awful–it sounds like that school was basically expecting kids to be adults, and punishing them when they fell short, by taking away their time to be kids.

  48. Papilio January 12, 2016 at 6:29 pm #

    Re: homework, we had a topography test every month or so in grades 4-6 that we had to prepare for at home. That was it, in primary school. No busywork, no reading, nothing.
    Then secondary school started and suddenly you had 12 subjects, often as many different teachers, a big new school that was a long distance away, and daily homework. All part of the you’re-a-big-kid-now package. But you know what? They’d ease you into it, helped you plan the work and prioritize, gave some leeway the first months, you adjusted, and we all survived. No need to practice homework in pre-K…

  49. James Pollock January 14, 2016 at 9:22 am #

    Re: homework: I wish schools of my day had been like the policy my daughter’s schools adopted… grading by competency. Grading that is based on whether or not you’ve learned the relevant content, not on whether or not you did a bunch of busywork.

  50. Dasy2k1 January 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

    I have noticed the amount of break (recess) shrinking in the UK since I was in primary school (elementary school) we used to get 15 mins in the morning, 75 mins for lunch (of which half an hour was spent eating, the rest playing) and 15 mins in the mid afternoon

    Most schools now only get 10mins in the morning, 45 for lunch and 10 in the afternoon