Peaceful Playgrounds Right to Recess Campaign

[ 2 ] May 23, 2012 |

All too often I hear my boys and their friends say recess was taken away as punishment for things such as poor behavior or for not finishing homework. Although theses acts should not be rewarded, I would like to see our school administration and staff value recess as necessary for healthy child development and find alternative ways to discipline kids or hold them accountable for their actions, or lack of action, in some instances.

Reasons for Recess:

  • Kids need to move so that they can better focus when they return to class.
  • Kids need to be physically active. Research indicates that most kids don’t get enough daily exercise.
  • When students sit outside against a wall for example, frequently misbehavior ensues.
  • Kids who lose recess all together are frequent offenders.

I loved this list of Discipline Alternatives 
to Withholding Recess from the Peaceful Playgrounds Right to Recess Campaign.

  • Write a letter of apology to the person who has been wronged and Discuss with teaching the importance of apologies
  • Write a letter to parents/guardians explaining why behavior is inappropriate or disruptive and stating what student will try to do to change behavior
  • Take away privilege of choice for class or individual activity when choice is built into activity
  • Do make up work during free choice time
  • Have students sit away from the group to do class work and have them “earn” their way back into the group activities
  • Have student work with teacher to develop a plan for behavior change tied to incremental privileges
  • Create a behavior charts with students that identifies a target behavior and agreed upon reinforcements and rewards for chronic behavior issue

Instead of withholding recess as the be all and end all in disciplining elementary students, a better solution might be to consider intermediary steps to disciplining students in respect to playground difficulties. Read more helpful suggestions here.

Category: community news, kids, preschool, teens (13 +), tweens

Anisa Raoof

about the author ()

Anisa Raoof is the publisher of She combines being a mom with her experience as an artist, designer, psych researcher and former co-director of the Providence Craft Show to create the go-to spot for families in Rhode Island and beyond. She loves using social media to connect parents with family-related businesses and services and promoting ways for parents to engage offline with their kids. Anisa believes in the power of working together and loves to find ways to collaborate with others. An online enthusiast, still likes to unplug often by reading books and magazines, drawing, learning to knit, making pop-up books with her two sons and listening to records with her husband.

Comments (2)

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  1. Interesting article! I agree that taking recess away isn’t an optimal disciplinary action for all the reasons that you mentioned, but sometimes it needs to be done. As a former elementary teacher, I used a variety of consequences–including taking away recess. Generally that was the only time during the day when a student could complete unfinished work or write apology letters, etc. Like any consequence it should be well understood before it is imposed and serial offenders (i.e. students who only get 2 or 3 recesses a month) are probably already working with the teacher, principal, and parents to change behaviors. Thanks for making me think!

    P.S. how about a positive consequence of extra recess??

  2. Katy Killilea Katy Killilea says:

    Maybe it should be equated with taking away food (No lunch? No one would agree to that.) I agree with you Anisa! Kids need recess so they can concentrate in the classroom.

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