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.