Recess, Once Free Time, Gets An Overhaul
The recess for the youngest students at Ardmore Elementary School in Bellevue doesn’t look like your typical recess. Big signs – and supervisors – direct students to organized games on different areas of the playground. Each game has school wide rules, and each is supervised by a 4th or 5th grader wearing a neon yellow safety vest. Two years ago at Ardmore, recesses weren’t nearly as regimented."Initially recess was kind of a free-for-all," Principal Heather Sanchez said. Away from the structure of the classroom, a lot of students weren’t getting along on the playground, she said. Structured recess has its advantages, says Dr. Dimitri Christakis of Seattle Children’s, like getting more kids moving on the playground. "And that may be one of the biggest benefits because we know from many studies, including studies we’ve done here, that simply being outside at recess doesn’t lead to a lot of increased physical activity," he said. Christakis said that few children in the U.S. today get the hour of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity that’s recommended by many groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics. On the other hand, he said, this kind of regimented recess doesn’t let students resolve their differences organically, without close supervision.
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