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Schools, Pressed to Achieve, Put the Squeeze on Recess

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  • BBracey@aol.com
    Schools, Pressed to Achieve, Put the Squeeze on Recess By Margaret Webb Pressler Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, June 1, 2006; Page A01
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 2, 2006
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      Schools, Pressed to Achieve, Put the Squeeze on Recess
      By Margaret Webb Pressler
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Thursday, June 1, 2006; Page A01


      Ask any group of kids what they like
      best about school and one answer will
      come up over and over: recess.
      Who doesn't remember that wonderful
      moment when you finally got to run out
      to the playground, carefree, for a pickup
      game of four square or dodge ball?
      But for many kids today, the recess bell
      comes too late, for too little time,
      or even not at all. Pressure to raise
      test scores and adhere to state-mandated
      academic requirements is squeezing recess
      out of the school day. In many schools,
      it's just 10 or 15 minutes, if at all.
      In some cases, recess has become
      structured with organized games -- yes,
      recess is being taught.

      Recess time varies across the region,
      and few school districts have standard
      policies. At Flint Hill Elementary School
      in Vienna, it is 15 minutes a day.

      In the District, officials say schools
      "aim for" 20 minutes. At Rosemary Hills
      Primary School in Silver Spring, the kids
      get half an hour. But at most middle
      schools, rece ss ha s been eliminated.
      Parents -- and kids -- are starting to
      fight back. Recess defense groups have
      formed nationally. And locally, the fight
      is underway in Arlington County, where the
      School Board has twice had to delay voting
      on its new "wellness program" because parents
      were so angry that it proposed a standard of
      only 15 minutes for recess. A revised proposal
      is to be voted on tonight.

      "Recess is too valuable to our students' lives
      to be the leftover time in the school day,"
      said Diane Schwartz, whose son attends Ashlawn
      Elementary School. "Our schools need to take the

      Academics and psychologists who study childhood
      development are growing concerned about overly
      structured, less playful school days, arguing
      that free play is extremely valuable to kids
      and their development.

      "This is the one time during the day that they
      have the freedom, or the power, to control what
      they will be doing in terms of decision-making,
      in terms of negotiation, in terms of conflict
      resolution with their peers," said Audrey
      Skrupskelis, associate professor of early
      childhood education at the University of
      South Carolina in Aiken.


      The complete article may be read at the URL above.

      Bonnie Bracey Sutton
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