A 5 year old has only 9 minutes of playground time in CyFair ISD.
A 10 year old has only 12 minutes of playground time in CyFair ISD.
These aren’t rare occurences, these are the everyday policies enacted by principals on elementary campuses throughout this school district. This is not benefitting our children, not promoting valuable and necessary social skills, and not providing the adequate brain break that our children need. So what is this school district to do about this problem? That is the question presented at the last school board meeting and we are hopeful that the members of the CyFair School Board will favor a restated policy that requires principals to leave our children on the playground for the longest possible duration within the current 30 minute policy. You can read over and over again on this site, in particular, about the reasons why RECESS is gaining national attention – its TOO important to get rid of in the lives of our children.
A group of parents talked with me recently and the number one consensus was that those at the DISTRICT level, and those in ADMINISTRATION, and those serving in our state and nations government, have lost touch with childhood and the children they serve. Instead, they have shifted focus from EDUCATING our children to MEETING TEST SCORE GOALS. TEST SCORES do not determine a child’s productivity, passion or desire for learning. TEST SCORES do not determine a persons success later in life. TEST SCORES have taken our public education system away from the teachers and put it into the hands of those making legislative decisions based on budgets and mandates, simply to put on paper that we, as a country, are globally competitive. Why do the TEST SCORES have anything to do with RECESS – well specifically here in CYFair ISD, RECESS is being cut, ART/MUSIC is being CUT all because principals say there IS NOT ENOUGH TIME TO PREPARE FOR THE TESTS. Education shouldn’t be about THE TEST, and it has been scientifically proven time and again that RECESS and CREATIVE OUTLETS such as MUSIC AND ART, enhance children’s overall academic performance.
In CyFair, they have favored shortening LARGE GROUP – this means that not only do the children have less time each week in ART and MUSIC but also, on a day that they are suppose to have one of the shortened ART/MUSIC classes, they are instead RUNNING LAPS to make up for missing Physical Education Class mandated minutes of STRUCTURED ACTIVITY. It may seem like a minimal change, taking 5 minutes away each day – but in the scheme of things the children are being removed from another creative outlet and BRAIN BREAK to be run around a track. These children, as is shown by studies in the last 10 years, benefit mentally, physically, psychologically, emotionally and socially by being given these necessary breaks DURING their stressful academic day. According to the NASPE they recommend NO LESS than 20 minutes of UNSTRUCTURED FREE PLAY and encourage MORE. According to the Am. Academy of Pediatrics, they recommend 60 minutes of UNSTRUCTURED FREE PLAY.
According to Dr. Pellegrini, (U of Georgia, Child Development Professor) “Every study shows that children are more attentive after recess” (Johnson, 1998, p. A16). Pellegrini adds that not having a recess during the school day is almost inhumane because children are being kept confined in their classrooms for hours each day. Prolonged periods of confinement in elementary classrooms have been found to lead to increased fidgeting, restlessness, and subsequent inability to concentrate (Pellegrini & Davis, 1993).
So, the questions remain, what are principals gaining by taking this valuable time away from our children? That is an answer we would like the school district to address. There are 7 hours in a child’s school day. In that 7 hours, according to the CyFair ISD website, these students are to have 5.5 hours of “instructional” time. They are to have a 1 hour block for LUNCH/RECESS and then there is a 30 minute window already at the principals discretion. MORE INSTRUCTIONAL (TEST PREP) TIME.. What is there to gain for these principals – because this is NOT the case at ALL the elementary schools within this district. If a principal is to say he/she values what FREE UNSTRUCTURED time provides to our children, then TAKES AWAY HALF of that FREE UNSTRUCTURED PLAY from those same children, I would have say that there MUST BE A REASON… It is obvious that the children DO NOT benefit from such a change – as is stated and cited in RESEARCH DATA over the past 10 years. What is to gain from these minutes ADDED to instructional time that THESE children NEED – that children at other schools within this same district DON’T need? Is it because some of these schools are TITLE 1, if so, should the parents opposed to shortened RECESS and RUNNING LAPS in place of ART/MUSIC move to a school within the district that is NOT TITLE 1, so their children can benefit from a FULL RECESS and FULL ART/MUSIC??
Where is the consistency? Where are these children being treated fairly? Where is the line that says, we value our children as CHILDREN and NOT just as TEST TAKERS? These children are subjected to rote and memorization for the purpose of passing a standardized test, a test that says you are ALL the same. But our children are individuals and a LOT of who they will become is being formed as they are in schools during these 7 hours of each day. And RECESS as FREE UNSTRUCTURED PLAY holds one of the largest influences on how well they do in school and how they develop socially. And it is our shared belief, that shortening of RECESS (and Art/MUSIC) will be a detriment to all the children walking the halls within CYFair for years to come.