September 12, 2011 Kerala Taylor

Play Haters! Nashua school district cuts back on recess, calls it a "significant disruption"

Researchers get it. Parents get it. Teachers get it. And kids most certainly get it.
Instinct and common sense dictate that recess is a vital and productive component of the school day, but some people still don’t get it. Superintendant Mark Conrad in Nashua, N.H. is one such person.

Conrad and Nashua elementary school principals have decided to eliminate a second 15-minute recess period for 2nd – 5th grade students. Conrad asserts that the second recess period creates a "significant disruption" in the school day, according to the Nashua Telegraph, and sometimes results in a "significant loss of learning." Students will instead use those 15 minutes for “enrichment in math and reading.”

Conrad adds, “Very few districts have a second recess.” It’s true—eliminating recess periods is not a trend limited to Nashua, despite that fact that it flies in the face of multiple studies proving that recess improves classroom behavior. That’s not to mention that children in Finnish elementary schools—who get an average of 75 minutes of recess a day—consistently rank higher than U.S. children in International Student Assessment Scores.

Really, what good is 15 more minutes of math if kids can’t concentrate? Recess doesn’t disrupt the school day; rather, it energizes children’s bodies and minds. They return to the classroom refreshed and ready to learn.

It’s time to speak out against Conrad’s decision and the many similar decisions being made in school districts across the United States. Join us to defend our children’s right to play by signing our Back-to-School Pledge!

When you sign, we'll get you started with a PDF copy of How to Save Play at Your School—featuring 15 action ideas for teachers and parents to make school grounds and school days more playful.

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